Celebrity jews

The Oscars: a list for tribe watchers

The Academy Awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 27 (ABC, 5 p.m.). The ceremony is being co-hosted by actress Anne Hathaway and actor and Oscar nominee James Franco, 32, who grew up in Palo Alto.

Many of the nominees below have been profiled in this column before — some not. There is an especially large number of Jewish nominees this year, so I cannot provide much bio color here and I’m not covering technical categories, such as sound, etc. Consider this a scorecard for the marquee awards.

Docs, composers, writers, producers

Karen Goodman, 60, and her husband, Kirk Simon, are nominated for best documentary short subject for “Strangers No More.” The film is about a school in Tel Aviv that has students from 48 countries, many of whom are refugees from war.

Randy Newman, 67, has been nominated 20 times for best song or best score (winning once). This year he is up for best song for “We Belong Together” (from “Toy Story 3”). He competes with Alan Menken, 61, who’s been nominated 19 times for a music Oscar, winning six times. This year, Menken is nominated for “I See the Light” (from “Tangled”).

Nominees for best adapted screenplay include Aaron Sorkin, 49 (“The Social Network”); Lee Unkrich, 43 (co-writer, “Toy Story 3,” which he also directed); Joel Cohen, 56, and Ethan Coen, 53 (“True Grit,” which they also directed); and Debra Granik, 48 (co-writer, “Winter’s Bone,” which she also directed).

Up for best original screenplay honors: Mike Leigh, 67 (“Another Year,” which he also directed); Stuart Blumberg, 41, and San Francisco State grad Lisa Cholodenko, 46 (“The Kids Are All Right”); David Seidler, 73 (“The King’s Speech”); and Scott Silver, 46 (co-writer of “The Fighter”).

The best picture Oscar goes to the film’s principal producers, and of the 10 films nominated, here are the producers I’ve been able to confirm as Jewish: Mike Medavoy, 70 (“Black Swan”); Todd Lieberman, 38 (“The Fighter”); Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, 43 (“The Kids Are All Right”);  Scott Rudin, 52, and the Coen brothers (“True Grit”); Rudin (“The Social Network”); and Emile Sherman, 38 (“The Kings Speech”). Sherman is an Australian Jew and the “Oscar pride” this year of landsmen in the land down under. His father, Brian, is a self-made wealthy businessman whose philanthropy has made him a quite famous in Australia.


Actors, directors, foreign films, animation

Hailee Steinfeld, 14, whose father is Jewish, is nominated for best supporting actress for her debut film performance in “True Grit.” Natalie Portman, 29 (“Black Swan”) is the favorite for best actress following her Golden Globe win for “Swan.” Best actor nominees include Jesse Eisenberg, 27 (“The Social Network”) and Franco for “127 Hours.” Eisenberg played Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook. Franco, the secular son of a Jewish mother, played a real-life hiker who amputated his arm to save his life.

Vying for best director are the Coen brothers (“True Grit”); Darren Aronofsky, 41 (“Black Swan”); and David O. Russell, 52 (“The Fighter”). Russell is the secular son of a Jewish father.

Susanne Bier, 50, is a Danish Jew who directed and co-wrote “In a Better World,” up for the best foreign language film after winning the Golden Globe. If her film wins the Oscar, Bier will be the one accepting the award.

Likewise, if Golden Globe winner “Toy Story 3” wins the Oscar for best animated film, the award will be presented to San Rafael resident Unkrich, who works for Emeryville-based Pixar Animation Studios.


Columnist  Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at middleoftheroad1@aol.com.

Nate Bloom

Nate Bloom writes the "Celebrity Jews" column for J.