For the most part, Jews skipped in Oscar nominations

los angeles | If a Jewish cabal supposedly runs Hollywood, it sure did a lousy job promoting its own for Academy Award nominations.

Where in past years one could at least count on a Steven Spielberg film or a Holocaust documentary to provide Jewish flavor, this year the pickings were slim when the Oscar hopefuls were announced Tuesday, Jan. 23.

However, there were four consolation prizes:

Alan Arkin received an Oscar nomination in the Supporting Actor category for his role as Grandpa, the heroin-snorting, womanizing family patriarch in “Little Miss Sunshine.”

The 72-year-old actor, director, author and musician holds the distinction of having been nominated for an Oscar in his very first screen appearance in 1966 in “The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming.” Two years later he was nominated again for his role in “The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.”

Despite a flood of shrewd publicity, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” won only one nomination for the faux journalist’s creator, Sacha Baron Cohen.

The British comedian was named in the Adapted Screenplay category, along with co-writers Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer.

Davis Guggenheim, who grew up in Washington, D.C., is the director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature. The film, starring Al Gore and based on his book, details data and predictions on global warming.

And finally, there’s the real dark-horse nomination of “West Bank Story” in the Short Film-Live Action category. Director Ari Sandel tags his work as “A little singing, a little dancing, a lot of hummus.”

A review in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles two years ago lauded “the very funny film featuring an all-singing, all-dancing cast. In it, the Israeli boy and the Palestinian girl join hands and hearts to settle a bitter rivalry between their families’ competing West Bank falafel stands.”

Tom Tugend

JTA Los Angeles correspondent