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    2020 Oscar Nominations!

    Jan Wahl

    By Jan Wahl–

    (Editor’s Note: In this first issue of 2020, we are thrilled and honored to announce the launch of a new column in the San Francisco Bay Times by two-time Emmy Award winner Jan Wahl. A regular on KCBS radio and KRON 4 television, she is a longtime LGBTQ community advocate who continues to heed her mother’s sound advice: “Plant your feet and tell your truth.”

    Before joining KCBS, Wahl was the entertainment reporter and movie/video reviewer at KNBR Radio, where she hosted a three-hour call-in show “Hollywood Calling.” Prior, Wahl frequently appeared as a film critic and historian on KGO Radio.

    Before coming to the Bay Area, she worked for ABC in Los Angeles, first as a documentary producer, and later as a stage manager and director of numerous programs and specials. In 1977, Wahl won an Emmy Award for producing and writing They Still Say I Do, a humorous documentary on the palimony case of Lee and Michelle Triola Marvin. That year she also became a member of the prestigious Directors Guild of America. In 1999 she won a second Emmy for A Filmgoer’s Bill of Rights.

    A movie enthusiast since her youth, Wahl began collecting movie memorabilia at age seven. She entered the journalism field as a newswriter for KGO-TV, where she also produced two documentaries while attending San Francisco State University. She graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications and Arts, and is now a member of their prestigious Alumnae Hall of Fame.

    For this San Francisco Pride 50th Anniversary year, Wahl in addition to her new column will also be sharing with us some of her favorite LGBTQ-themed films of all time.)

    Every year my heart breaks because my favorite films are rarely recognized by the Motion Picture Academy. But if you can’t take disappointment, you don’t belong in show business!

    This was the year of a movie that inspired and shook me to my core: Bombshell. It received a few nominations, for which I am grateful: Best Actress, Supporting Actress, and Makeup/Hair. But it was a worthy contender for Best Picture and Best Director, nominations that were left in the dust by over-rated films such as Joker and Marriage Story. You might disagree … which is totally fine. We are all critics and movies speak to us in many complex and mysterious ways. I live for critical thinking, yours and mine.

    This is a year of legends, both in front of and behind the camera: from Martin Scorsese and Roger Deakins to Antonio Banderas and the lesser known, but one of my personal favorites, Jonathan Price.  Who knew we’d get a year when both Popes are nominated from The Two Popes? Talk about hedging your bets.

    Notice many female names in the list of nominations? As a longtime member of the Directors Guild of America, I am shamed by the lack of female nominations in the Directing category. This was the year women helmed the wonderful Little Women, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Harriet, among others. All three were on my Top Ten of the Year. (See her complete list at: ) We have a long way to go, ladies, but we will get there.

    The new category name is Best International Feature, once known as Foreign Film. Parasite, capturing the hearts and minds of many of us, will take home the gold. Though my hopes for Zack Gottsagen in The Peanut Butter Falcon and John Lithgow in Bombshell came to naught, their performances are recognized. Scarlett Johannsson makes herstory as a nominee for Best Supporting and Best Actress, though this has happened many times in the past. I will be rooting for the former for her role in the audacious Jojo Rabbit

    Historical context belongs at the Oscars. One of the greatest films of all time is Network, which lost for Best Picture. Gloria Swanson lost for memorable Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Peter O’Toole missed the gold not only for Lawrence of Arabia but also for my second favorite comedy ever, My Favorite Year. Many of us are still seething that Judy Garland did not win for A Star Is Born. (This is the year Renée Zellweger insisted that the film Judy use Garland’s actual voice for the singing. Okay, that was my dream. It would have been a chance to remind all of us (as if we ever forgot) about Garland, and expose a new generation to her unmistakable, unique voice. The decision not to use Garland’s vocals ruined the film Judy for me. Renée may win this year, but Judy Garland fans and future fans lost.

    The Oscars matter.  It is about quality, not quantity, brilliance not box office. We need them or Hollywood will go off the rails even more than it does now. It would be Endgame and Star Wars and nothing else. We deserve more and so does the amazing art of cinema. 

    Emmy Award-winner Jan Wahl is a renowned entertainment reporter, producer, and teacher. A member of the prestigious Directors Guild of America, she is regularly featured on KCBS AM & FM, KRON TV, and other media outlets. 


    The Celluloid Closet (1995)

    By Jan Wahl–

    The Celluloid Closet is not only a great LGBTQ-themed film, but it is also in my top ten favorite films of all time. Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman direct, with a brilliant screenplay by Armistead Maupin. 

    It is an illuminating documentary on the evolution of the entertainment industry in the shaping of LBGTQ images, characters, and movies—using clips, interviews, and historical context. It is based on Vito Russo’s book of the same title. Lily Tomlin narrates, and each frame is immensely entertaining. The documentary is important for now, and forever.


    Jan Wahl’s Coming Attractions

    Sunday, February 9
    2020 Awards Night at the Lark Theater
    A Benefit for the Lark Theater
    Guest Emcees: Jan Wahl & Jerry Goldstone
    With Musical Guests Tin Sandwich on the Red Carpet
    549 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur
    4 pm: Red Carpet, Hors D’oeuvres, Champagne and More, 5 pm: Show

    Thursday, February 13–Thursday, February 20
    The Mostly British Film Festival
    New films from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa
    Vogue Theatre
    3290 Sacramento Street, San Francisco
    Individual tickets starting at $15/$20

    Published on January 16, 2020