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And the East Bay Oscar Goes to...


IT'S OSCAR TIME AGAIN. On February 25, Ellen DeGeneres will host the party for Hollywood hipsters. If Diablo were handing out this year’s Academy Awards, there would be a lot of golden statues going out to our friends and neighbors from the East Bay. And the winners are …

Best Picture: Little Miss Sunshine.
Former Walnut Creek resident Jonathan Dayton codirected this smash-hit comedy (pictured above), which set off a studio bidding war when it premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Not a bad feature film debut for the Alameda County native who, with codirector Valerie Faris, cut his teeth making music videos for R.E.M. and Smashing Pumpkins.

Best Director: Ryan Fleck, Half Nelson.
Fleck, a former Castro Valley resident, has already picked up a Breakthrough Director honor at New York’s Gotham Awards for his powerful picture about an idealistic inner city teacher with a crack habit. The critically adored flick is nominated for a slew of Independent Spirit Awards (indie Hollywood’s Oscars), and lead actor Ryan Gosling’s (pictured) startling performance is a genuine contender in the Best Actor category.

Best Actor: Forrest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland.
The veteran actor (pictured) studied at the Drama Studio London’s Berkeley campus before appearing in such classics as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Platoon, and The Crying Game. His performance as brutal yet charismatic Ugandan dictator Idi Amin is one of the year’s most buzzed about.

Best Supporting Actress: Luenell, Borat.
It turns out that former Castro Valley resident Luenell was one of the few actors in on the joke during filming of the faux documentary Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Luenell, an improvisational comedian now based in L.A., played the prostitute whom Borat invites to a conservative dinner in the South.

Best Supporting Actor/Best Original Song: Kyle Gass, Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny.
Walnut Creek native Kyle Gass starred in the heavy metal comedy Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny. He also cowrote the music with costar Jack Black, so perhaps we’ll see Gass onstage performing “The Government Totally Sucks” in the Best Original Song category. Or maybe not.

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