The Bay Area's Oscar Connections

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty
    The Oscar statue in the Grand Ballroom at the 83rd Academy Awards Governors Ball preview on February 9, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

    When the 83rd Academy Awards telecast begins Sunday at 5 p.m. from the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, the Bay Area and its surrounding areas will be well represented in most major voting categories. The following is a list of those representatives, and predictions about whether they stand a chance of emerging with a statuette.

    Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, 43, initially came to Emeryville-based Pixar in 1994 on temporary assignment during the development of the original Story, and has never left. (The trilogy is anchored by the voice of Concord native Tom Hanks.) Pixar, which traditionally dominates the Best Animated Feature category, should enjoy similar success Sunday in a three-horse race against DreamWorks SKG's How to Train Your Dragon and Triplets of Belleville creator Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist.

    San Francisco State University graduate Lisa Cholodenko's The Kids Are All Right isn't likely to wrest the Best Picture Oscar from formidable favorites The King's Speech or The Social Network. But fellow S.F. State alum Annette Bening, 52, who was once a member of the city's American Conservatory Theater, could beat out Black Swan's Natalie Portman, 29, if Academy voters choose to honor Bening's lifetime experience.

    Modesto native Jeremy Renner, a former Best Actor nominee for 2008's The Hurt Locker, will be a runner-up once again – this time in a supporting capacity – for his forceful turn as a blue-collar bank robber in The Town. (The award seems earmarked for Christian Bale of The Fighter, though Geoffrey Rush could nab the statuette if King's Speech earns a momentous sweep.)

    San Francisco native and Berkeley graduate Charles Ferguson, 55, will win the Best Documentary award for Inside Job, a movie he wrote, directed and produced about the global financial meltdown that cost millions of people their homes and jobs.

    Palo Alto's James Franco, 32, might have been a favorite in another year for his tour-de-force performance as a trapped hiker in 127 Hours, but this year's Best Actor prize belongs to King's Speech star Colin Firth, 50.

    Ditto for Jesse Eisenberg, 27, pictured here with 26-year-old Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg from a recent episode of Saturday Night Live. The Social Network, David Fincher's widely acclaimed account of Zuckerberg's miraculous rise from geeky Harvard undergrad to Silicon Valley mogul, might yet overcome the odds to win Best Picture, but Sunday will not belong to Eisenberg personally. And though the film is partially set in the playground of the tech giants, the Valley itself was recreated in Los Angeles and Pasadena.

    And finally, legendary makeup artist Rick Baker, 60 – a six-time Oscar winner awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2008 by the city's Academy of Art University – should earn his seventh statuette for crafting the exquisite look of an otherwise middling remake of The Wolfman. Take these picks with a boulder of salt, or use them to inform your office pool. Just don't come looking for a refund if you lose. Happy Oscar watching!

    -- 7x7 SF