Celebrity Jews

Oscar time

The 85th Academy Awards will be presented at 4 p.m. Feb. 24 in a live telecast on ABC. Barbra Streisand, 70, will sing at this year’s ceremony. Here are some of the Jewish nominees.

Benh Zeitlin

Best actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, 55, “Lincoln”; Joaquin Phoenix, 38, “The Master.” Both have Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers, and neither defines himself as a “Jewish actor.” Best supporting actor: Alan Arkin, 78, “Argo.” Best supporting actress: Helen Hunt, 49, “The Sessions.” Hunt’s paternal grandmother was Jewish. She is nominated for playing Berkeley-based sex therapist Cheryl Cohen Greene, 68. Last October, I interviewed Cohen Greene for j. and spoke to her again recently. She tells me she’s been very busy doing interviews for her memoir, “An Intimate Life.” One highlight of her new whirlwind life: She got to meet Dr. Ruth Westheimer, 84.

Best director: Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Zeitlin, who is only 30, made his film for less than $2 million and is the “dark horse wunderkind” of this year’s Oscars. The son of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, he was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah. “Beasts” is also a best picture nominee. Steven Spielberg, 66, “Lincoln.” Many sharp critics have compared Zeitlin to a young Spielberg. David O. Russell, 54, “Silver Linings Playbook.” Best original song: “Suddenly” from “Les Misérables,” music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, 67, and lyric by Herbert Kretzmer, 87, and Alain Boublil, 72. Schonberg and Boublil are French Jews who wrote the original stage version of “Les Misérables.” Kretzmer, an English Jew, wrote the lyrics for the English-language version of the stage show. All three wrote a new (now nominated) song for the film. Best adapted screenplay: Zeitlin (“Beasts”); Tony Kushner, 56, “Lincoln”; and Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook.” Best original screenplay: Mark Boal, 39, “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Feature-length documentary: “5 Broken Cameras,” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, co-directed by Israeli Guy Davidi, 34; “The Gatekeepers,” interviews with six former heads of Mossad, directed by Israeli Dror Moreh, 52; and “The Invisible War,” about sexual assault in the military, produced by Amy Ziering, 50. Short-length documentary: “Kings Point,” about (mostly) Jewish seniors in Florida, directed by San Franciscan Sari Gilman, 43, who is profiled in this week’s j.

The best picture Oscar goes to a film’s principal producers. The nominees include Grant Heslov, 47, “Argo”; Eric Fellner, 53, Les Misérables”; Spielberg, “Lincoln”; Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”; and Stacey Sher, 50, “Django Unchained.”


New ‘Twilight’?

The supernatural film “Beautiful Creatures,” which opened Feb. 14, is based on a best-selling young adult novel of the same name. If the film does well, it may follow the success of the “Twilight” series.

Emmy Rossum

The film features the handsome Alden Ehrenreich, 23, playing the teenager Ethan. He was discovered by Spielberg when he was 14. While attending a bat mitzvah, the famous director happened to see a funny video starring Ehrenreich. He contacted Ehrenreich and helped him get TV guest roles.

Emmy Rossum, 26 (“Shameless”), has a big supporting role as Ridley, and Zoey Deutch, 18, has another large supporting role as Emily.

This is Deutch’s first big film role. Her father is director Howard Deutch, 63.


Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at [email protected].

Nate Bloom

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