Jul 07, 2020

Alumnus wins Oscar

Fresno State alumnus Brad Lewis said in a phone interview the night before the telecast of the Oscars that “I’m crossing my fingers in hopes of winning my first-ever Academy Award.”

Lewis can now officially uncross his fingers, because last night the Disney and Pixar film “Ratatouille” – which was produced by Lewis – won Best Animated Feature Film.

The film’s director, Brad Bird, took the stage to accept the award and thanked Lewis in his speech.

“I’m so thrilled,” Bird said, “and I just want to thank everyone involved … including producer Brad Lewis.”

Kathleen McKinley, former chair of Fresno State theatre department and a student at Fresno State the same time as Lewis, said she is very proud of him and wasn’t shocked about Lewis’ achievement considering his talent and ambition.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” McKinley said. “Brad is an extremely creative and good performer.”

“Ratatouille” has won several awards this year, including a Golden Globe award, and Lewis said attending awards ceremonies is very surreal.

“The coolest thing about these ceremonies is being in a room with all these very accomplished people,” he said. “But then you step back and think ‘oh wow, what do I say to these people?’”

Before joining Pixar Animation Studios in 2001, Lewis spent 13 years as a producer, executive producer and executive vice-president of production at Pacific Data Images, a wholly owned subsidiary of DreamWorks Animation SKG. He was a producer on “Forces of Nature,” “The Peacemaker,” “Broken Arrow” and the animated feature film “ANTZ.”

The big winner of the night was Best Picture winner “No Country For Old Men.” Filmmakers Joel Cohen and Ethan Cohen also took home Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.

Other winners of the night included Javier Bardem for Best Supporting Actor for “No Country for Old Men,” Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress for “Michael Clayton,” Marion Cotillard for Best Actress for “La Vie En Rose” and Daniel Day Lewis for Best Actor for “There Will Be Blood.”

The big upsets of the night came in the female categories, where Amy Ryan from “Gone Baby Gone” was the favorite to win for Best Supporting Actress and Julie Christie was the favorite for Best Actress for “Away From Her.”

The 80th Academy Awards celebrated its landmark birthday by highlighting famous moments throughout its prestigious history, including Charlie Chaplin’s momentous return and Halle Berry’s history-making win for Best Actress.

Although the awards themselves are 80 years old, the first actual telecast of the Oscars wasn’t until 1953 and was hosted by Bob Hope. Hollywood’s biggest night almost didn’t happen because of the recent strike by members of the Writers Guild of America. However, the strike ended before production of the awards show began.

Jon Stewart, host of last night’s ceremonies, noted this in his opening monologue for the show, when he exclaimed, “The fight is over!”

Stewart also commented on the subject matter for all the films nominated for Best Picture, pointing out that the most lighthearted film of the nominees is “Juno,” about a teen who deals with pregnancy

“Does Hollywood need a hug?” Stewart said, “with ‘There will be Blood’, ‘No Country for Old Men’ … thank God for teen pregnancy!”

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