Oscars light on Jewish nominees

'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Photo courtesy of Paramount

The Oscar nominations were announced on Jan. 16. The event was held before dawn, as always, and by the time the sun was up, it was clear that the 86th annual Academy Awards would be light on Jewish winners.

Not counting the producers included in the Best Picture nominees, only five Jewish men are nominated for Academy Awards this year in the other seven major categories (four acting categories, Best Directing, Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay and Best Writing-Original Screenplay).

The date of the Oscars has been pushed back this year so as not to conflict with the Winter Olympics, so you have until March 2 to catch up on the nominees you missed. The Academy Awards will air at 5 p.m. on that day on ABC.

Here’s a rundown of the Jewish storylines in this year’s Academy Awards:

‘American Hustle’: The ’70s scam artist flick is the leader of the Academy Award pack this year with 10 nominations, including one for Best Directing for David O. Russell (who was raised atheist but is Jewish on his father’s side). Among the other nominations for the film is one for Best Actor for Christian Bale for his role as sad-sack Jewish con man Irving Rosenfeld (a character loosely based on Mel Weinberg, who was involved in the 1970s Abscam affair that was the inspiration for the film). Neither Russell nor Bale is likely to win (Alfonso Cuarón is the one to beat in the Best Directing category for “Gravity,” while the Best Actor race has all but narrowed to Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years a Slave” or Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club”), but with 10 chances, odds are good that “American Hustle” will pick up a few awards before the night is over. In fact, Russell’s best chance for an Oscar may lie in the Best Writing-Original Screenplay category; he is co-nominated with Eric Warren Singer. “American Hustle” is in theaters.

‘Blue Jasmine’: Woody Allen’s 45th feature film earned three Oscar nominations. Cate Blanchett is the front-runner for the Best Actress award for her riveting portrayal of a society wife brought low, while Sally Hawkins is a long shot for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Blanchett’s long-suffering sister. Allen is nominated for Best Original Screenplay, an award he won in 2011 for “Midnight in Paris,” but “Jasmine” isn’t beloved like “Paris” was, and the Oscar probably isn’t headed his way. “Blue Jasmine” is available for rental and for purchase on Blu-ray/DVD.

‘Her’: Spike Jonze’s quirky dramedy about a man in love with his computer operating system earned five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Jonze (whose real name is Adam Spiegel and who is Jewish on his father’s side) is nominated for Best Writing-Original Screenplay and co-nominated with Karen O for Best Original Song for “The Moon Song.” Best Original Song is almost certainly going to “Let It Go,” the smash hit from “Frozen,” (which was performed by Jewish singer Idina Menzel, by the way), but Jonze has a decent shot at the Best Writing-Original Screenplay Oscar. “Her” is in theaters.

‘Omar’: The Palestinian entry in the Best Foreign Language Film race is a tense drama about a young Palestinian man who participates in the shooting of an Israeli soldier and becomes an Israeli informant. “Omar” is not likely to win, as “The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Belgium), “The Great Beauty” (Italy) and “The Hunt” (Denmark) are all getting more attention. Israel’s submission, the drama “Bethlehem,” did not even make the final list of nominees. “Omar” opens in the Valley on Feb. 28. 

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’: Martin Scorsese’s three-hour epic about the rise and fall of Jewish stock market libertine Jordan Belfort has one notable omission: Belfort’s Jewishness, which is nowhere to be found onscreen. The film garnered five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, who plays Belfort, and one for Best Supporting Actor for Jewish actor Jonah Hill, who plays Belfort’s best friend and literal partner in crime, Donnie Azoff (a character based on Danny Porush, who is Jewish). This is Hill’s second Best Supporting Actor nomination (the first was for “Moneyball” in 2012), but he’s unlikely to succeed this time either, as Jared Leto is the odds-on favorite to win for “Dallas Buyers Club.” DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort is an Oscar-worthy performance, but as with Bale, he’s unlikely to get past Ejiofor or McConaughey. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is in theaters.

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