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Jewish ne’er-do-wells fare well in Oscar nominations

LOS ANGELES (JTA) —  The Academy Award nominations proved to be a bonanza for Jewish con men.

“American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” on Thursday won multiple nominations, including for best picture, for spotlighting the shenanigans of two members of the tribe unlikely to be feted at any Jewish Man of the Year banquet.

“American Hustle,” which tied “Gravity” for the most nominations with 10, is based on the misdeeds of Irving Rosenfeld, the principal figure in the FBI’s Abscam sting in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. Christian Bale plays Rosenfeld in the film and earned a nomination as best actor.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is based on the memoirs of high-living stockbroker Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who will be vying with Bale for top actor. From the same film, director and co-writer David O. Russell — the son of a Russian-Jewish father and Italian-Catholic mother — and Jonah Hill earned nominations. Hill was tapped for best supporting actor for his portrayal as second-string con man Donnie Azoff.

Meanwhile, Woody Allen is up for best writer for his screenplay for “Blue Jasmine,” although he missed out in the best picture and director categories.

Spike Jonze, who was born Adam Spiegel and has a Jewish father, hit paydirt with three nominations as producer, writer (original screenplay) and composer of “The Moon Song” for his film “Her.”

Emmanuel Lubezki was nominated as cinematographer for “Gravity.”

Among the foreign language films, the Palestine-credited “Omar” made it to the final five. “Omar” director Hany Abu-Assad, whose “Paradise Now” was nominated previously, is a native and resident of Nazareth. Israel’s entry, “Bethlehem,” was eliminated last month. The two films present different takes on the bloodier aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Philomena,” produced by the Jewish mogul Harvey Weinstein, placed among the nine best picture nominations. But three other highly touted films produced by Weinstein’s company — “August: Osage County,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” and Lee Daniels’ “The Butler” — failed to land a nomination. Also coming up short was the critically acclaimed musical drama “Inside Llewyn Davis” by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen.

The Academy Awards will be presented on March 2 in Hollywood.

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