These Celebs With Bay Area Ties Just Won Oscars
The 95th Academy Awards last night didn’t boast a single slap on the face. While some may argue a sleight or a snub was just as bad, it was a night of wins for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s Everything Everywhere All at Once and the German-language film All Quiet on the Western Front. But a few of last night’s winners had strong Bay Area ties, and that’s worth a shout out no matter the results.
Jamie Lee Curits won an Oscar for best supporting actress and, relevantly, is the daughter of Merced born – and Stockton -raised actress Janet Leigh. Leigh famously worked with Alfred Hitchcock on Psycho, catapulting both Leigh and Hitchcock even further on their meteoric careers. Hitchcock himself shot multiple Bay Area movies including the Birds in Bodega Bay. Curtis, for her part, gave her mom’s alma mater, University of the Pacific in Stockton, a try for one semester before heading into a nepo baby acting career. And she left some other contenders for the Oscar with sour grapes.
Oakland’s own Ryan Coogler directed Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which won the best costume Oscar for Ruth Carter’s contributions. She was the first Black woman to win that award in 2019 for the first Black Panther, and now CNN reports she is the first Black woman to win multiple Oscars at all. Carter paid tribute to her mom who died last year at 101-years-old during her acceptance speech.
Brendan Fraser, who won the best actor Oscar for his role in A24’s The Whale, got his start in a San Francisco movie back in 1991. Dogfight is a little-remembered River Phoenix and Lili Taylor movie about a Marine set in the 1960s. Fraser debuted in the acting world as Sailor No. 1 who gets in a fight with Phoenix. Iconic.
There are smaller connections, too. Jonathan Majors, who broke out in The Last Black Man in San Francisco, presented the cinematography award alongside Michael B Jordan who broke into the acting world himself in Coogler’s Fruitvale Station.
Ke Huy Quan, known for roles as Short Round and Data in the 80s, took home the Oscar for best supporting actor; it would be a shame not to mention his powerful family reunion at the end of The Goonies at Sonoma County’s Goat Rock Beach. And James Hong, Gong Gong in Everything Everywhere All at Once, gained cult status as David Lo Pan in San Francisco’s Big Trouble in Little China — Hong didn’t win an Oscar, but deserves an honorable mention.
It was also a year of firsts for the Academy Awards. Everything Everywhere All at Once made history over and over again, notably as Michelle Yeoh became the first person with south-east Asian descent to win best actress. “Naatu Naatu” was the first Indian-produced song to ever be nominated for song of the year; it then became the first Indian-produced song to win the award. Relevantly, Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga made history as the first Indians to be inducted into the Academy. A big hope for the NorCal area was The Fablemans, set in the greater Bay Area and based off of director Steven Spielberg’s childhood in the region. Nominated for seven awards, the film took home no gold.