San Francisco

Big Night For the Bay Area at the Oscars

Let's take a moment to congratulate our Bay Area Oscar winners.

Oakland native Mahershala Ali walked away with best supporting actor for his role of pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book,” which won best picture at the Academy Awards.

This was Ali’s second Oscar. In 2017, he won his first best supporting actor Academy Award trophy for his role in Moonlight. Ali played basketball and helped his high school, Mt. Eden High, reach the Division III state championship in 1990. He earned a scholarship to Saint Mary’s but didn’t really stick with basketball at college.

“Honestly, I kind of resented basketball by the end of my time there,” Ali said in an interview with Saint Mary’s. “I’d seen guys on the team get chewed up, spat out and I was personally threatened with being shipped off to the University of Denver.

“All in the name of wins and productivity.”

In the article, he talks about his name: "I was born Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, and I went by Mahershala Gilmore while at SMC. I changed my last name in 2000, and from 2001-2010 I was known professionally as Mahershalalhashbaz Ali."

John Ottman — who earned an Oscar for his film editing work on “Bohemian Rhapsody” — gave the Bay Area a shout out when he thanked his parents for letting him make films in their garage on Normington Way in San Jose.

“This goes to my parents on their fireplace mantle because they encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do as a kid, whether it was writing music, which was a mystery to them, or making films in their garage on Normington Way in San Jose California,” he said.

The Mercury News reported that Ottman’s 85-year-old mother, Mary, who is still living in San Jose, attended the Oscars with her son.

Ottman, a graduate of Gunderson High School, started writing and recording radio plays on cassette tapes from a young age in San Jose, according to an online bio on IMDB. “He'd perform many characters with his voice (and some sound effects), and called upon his neighborhood friends as extra cast members,” the bio says. “By the fourth grade, Ottman was playing the clarinet and continued doing so throughout high school. But his real concentration turned from audio productions to making films. He turned his parents' garage into a movie studio, where multiple sets were interchangeable to accommodate productions - invariably some sort of science fiction film. By high school, his films evolved to hour-long productions complete with large sets and lavish scores edited together from his favorite soundtracks."

Emeryville-based Pixar’s “Bao” won the Oscar for best animated short film.

The film's director Domee Shi, is the first woman to direct a Pixar short film and had an important message in her acceptance speech: "For all of the nerdy girls who hide behind their sketchbooks, don't be afraid to tell your stories to the world."

Shi told the LA Times that she took her crews on a culinary journey of dumpling restaurants in San Francisco and Oakland’s Chinatown for inspiration.

“Free Solo,” the movie about climbing Yosemite’s famous El Capitan without a rope, won a trophy for best feature-length documentary. The team included cinematographer Samuel Crossley, a San Francisco State alum.

And although Oakland’s Ryan Coogler, director of Black Panther, didn’t win an award himself, his movie took home three trophies: best music score, costume and production design.

Big congrats to all the winners!

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