Two films that have encountered fierce controversy in the Jewish community and Israel are in the running for Oscar honors as nominations for the Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning.
"Munich," Steven Spielberg's take on the Israeli hunt for the killers of its athletes at the 1972 Olympics, did better than some critics expected with five nominations.
These include best picture, best director (Spielberg), adapted screenplay by Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, film editing and original musical score.
Picked among the top five foreign language film entries is the Palestinian "Paradise Now" by director-writer Hany Abu-Assad, which follows two suicide bombers from Nablus on a mission to blow up a Tel Aviv bus.
Nominated in the same category is Germany's Sophia Scholl: The Final Days," about an anti-Nazi resistance cell in Munich during World War II.
The actor nominations have a Jewish flavor, as well. Joaquin Phoenix, whose mother was born into an Orthodox New York family, received the nod in the lead-actor category for his portrayal of country music legend Johnny Cash in "Walk the Line."
Jake Gyllenhaal, another son of a Jewish mother (screenwriter Noami Foner Gyllenhaal) was nominated for best supporting actor in the gay cowboy saga "Brokeback Mountain."
Fully Jewish Rachel Weisz is in contention for best actress in a supporting role for her performance in "The Constant Gardner." The London-born actress' father and mother fled Hungary and Austria respectively in the 1930s in the face of the rising Nazi menace.
Woody Allen was named for "Match Point" in the original screenplay category, as was Noah Baumbach for "The Squid and the Whale."
"Capote" scored an adapted screenplay nomination for Dan Futterman.
Two Jewish personalities will also have key roles on March 5. Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" fame will serve as Oscar host for the first time, while veteran producer Gil Cates will captain the 78th Oscar telecast for the 13th time.
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