Even though so many of this year’s Oscar-nominated films did not require you to brave a movie theater to enjoy them, don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize the majority of the nominees who are up for the prized statuette. To help you decide who you might want to root for on March 27 when the Academy Awards return to Hollywood, I’ve put together a (very) short list of native Angelenos who received Oscar nominations this year.
Note that I have not included any nominees who were part of a pair or group. If you are an Angeleno and produced a movie with a New Yorker and a Dane, for example, that’s great! Teamwork makes the dream work, etc., but that doesn’t fly here.
Also, I focused on solo Angelenos, like the ones driving alone on the 405. Solidarity!
Paul Thomas Anderson
Topping our list of L.A.-born and bred nominees is the Valley’s #1 son: Paul Thomas Anderson. PTA has set a number of films in the 818, and his latest romp, “Licorice Pizza,” is a celebration of the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s.
Debuting the film over the hill in Westwood was an interesting choice, but I’ll give him a pass since the Regency Village Theatre is a true movie palace, and its 70 mm presentation is a rarity.
Anderson received three Oscar nominations for “Licorice Pizza”: Best Original Screenplay, Best Directing and Best Picture.
And at the bottom of our list, we have the beloved Andrew Garfield. Yes, the Emma Stone-era Spider-Man was born in L.A. in 1983, but his family moved across the pond to the U.K. when he was just 4 years old. It was there that he developed his acting chops (and got dual citizenship).
Although he claims to feel just at home in England as he does in the U.S., I can’t help but wonder — is that really possible?
He’s nominated for his performance in the Netflix musical “Tick, Tick … BOOM!” While the lead actor category is stacked with strong competitors — Will Smith, Javier Bardem, Denzel Washington and Benedict Cumberbatch — Garfield still has a decent chance at earning his first Oscar.
Bucking the trend of British actors crushing it playing American characters, Kristen Stewart snagged a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination for her bittersweet portrayal of Princess Diana in “Spencer.” The Oscar nomination is a bit of a rarity for the SFV native who’s better known for “Twilight” than she is for receiving praise from her peers. But her performance as the beautiful monarch with an eating disorder and a difficult time fitting in within the restraints of royalty was definitely worthy of the hype.
Only Olivia Colman stands in her way, but the Brit took home an Oscar in 2019 for “The Favourite,” where she was able to show off far more range than in last year’s “The Lost Daughter.”
Now Germaine Franco is an Angeleno worth rooting for, in part, because she can use all the good vibes she can get. Born in Long Beach, Franco was the first Latina composer accepted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ music branch back in 2016.
After more than 25 years grinding it out in Hollywood, Franco applied for membership at the academy “timidly,” doubting she would be accepted despite working on dozens of features like “The Italian Job,” “Hancock,” “Happy Feet,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Toy Story 3.”
With her nomination for her work on Disney’s “Encanto,” Franco has a chance at breaking through another glass ceiling. Earlier this month, she became the first Latina to be nominated for Best Original Score; in order to win, she will have to beat the likes of Hans Zimmer (“Dune”) and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood (“The Power of the Dog”) — which won’t be easy.
And lastly, we come to Diane Warren, who received her 13th Oscar nomination in the Original Song category this year with “Four Good Days” from the film “Somehow You Do.” Will this tune you probably haven’t heard from a film you probably haven’t seen lead to Warren’s first Oscar win?
She’s up against Beyonce, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Van Morrison and Billie Eilish — are you betting the house on her? Sad, because Warren has given the world so many beautiful songs over her long and successful career. If the Van Nuys native does finally win, it will be the biggest upset of the night.
Speaking of Billie Eilish, she was also nominated in this category alongside her collaborator, producer and sibling Finneas O’Connell for the title track of the Bond flick “No Time to Die.” The pair famously hails from Highland Park and are thus Angelenos, but rules are rules. They are a duo in this category and are disqualified for the purposes of this article.
But in this category, it’s hard to think that they’d be anything but favorites. Not only is Billie’s singing divine, but Finneas captured that swirling Bond essence in the melody, and “No Time to Die” really is a track that easily fits into the 007 canon. So, fine, Highland Park may not claim her, but you can root for them next month. You have our permission.