Time to break out the thrift store formal and take a turn in the spotlight. On Oscar Night, “Lady Bird” has a chance to soar – and that’s inspired some creative celebration.
Sacramento-grown filmmaker Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story is nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Saoirse Ronan, who plays Lady Bird, and Laurie Metcalf, her beleaguered mother, were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectfully. The Oscars will be broadcast live from Hollywood at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Starting with a 4:30 p.m. red carpet walk, the biggest local bash will be at St. Francis High School, Gerwig’s alma mater.
“We’ve never had an Oscar party,” said MaryAnne Kelly of St. Francis High School, “but we’ve never had an alumnus nominated for five Oscars before.”
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On Sunday evening, a life-size cutout of Gerwig (Class of ’02) will greet 350 guests to St. Francis’ Oscar party. (Tickets – $25 – are almost sold out.) Current student Peyton Spellacy (Class of ’20), who also did her own “Lady Bird” video, will interview guests for the school’s TroubieTV.
Contests will award prizes to best dressed and best thrift store dress. (Thrift Town, where Lady Bird got her fictional formal, is hosting a special 50 percent off sale in advance of St. Francis’ event.) In addition, the school will accept dress donations for future real-life proms.
At the event, fans can pose with backdrops of Sacramento landmarks featured in the movie as well as view a special treat.
“We found old VHS tapes of (theatrical) shows Greta did when she was in high school plus a video of an Oscar party she had with friends,” Kelly said. Those vintage tapes will be part of a video tribute.
“Everyone here has nothing but wonderful things to say about her,” said Kelly, who has seen “Lady Bird” three times. “She’s so beloved.”
Whatever their connection to Gerwig, Sacramentans have flocked to “Lady Bird” and its creator.
“We’re so excited for Greta,” said Shannon Barnes-Arguijo, co-owner of Club Raven, which has a cameo in the movie. “I’ve never met her, but her mom came by and gave us all (‘Lady Bird’) buttons. It was so cute.”
“I don’t know how we’ll do it; we’re just a neighborhood bar,” said Barnes-Arguijo, who fell in love with the movie. “This is our first ever Oscar party. We’re all going to dress up. We’re going to have a red carpet photo booth out front with the sign in the background. We’re going to do an Oscar ballot with prizes for first and second place.”
In honor of the film, Barnes-Arguijo created a “Lady Bird” cocktail: In a tall glass, pour 1 jigger (3 tablespoons) Tahoe Blue vodka over ice, followed by 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon sweet and sour syrup and a splash of club soda. Top with 1 tablespoon Torani blackberry syrup and garnish with blackberries and a slice of lemon. (Club Raven makes its own sweet and sour syrup, combining equal parts fresh lemon juice and simple syrup.)
“It’s sweet and a little tart, just like Lady Bird’s character,” Barnes-Arguijo said.
“Lady Bird” already has put Club Raven on the must-see map.
“It’s a funny thing; people from all over stop by just to say they’d been here,” Barnes-Arguijo said. “When I first saw the movie at the Tower Theater, the crowd started cheering when they saw the neon signs (of Sacramento landmarks).”
That same mix of pride and curiosity has filled walking and running tours of “Lady Bird” landmarks. On Sunday, Sac Running Tours will host at least three “Lady Bird” tours, maybe four, in a pre-Oscar party on the move.
“It’s blown me away,” said Jenn Kistler-McCoy, owner of Sac Running Tours. “Way more people than I anticipated have wanted to go on a ‘Lady Bird’ tour.”
Kistler-McCoy, who started the tour Feb. 11, already has guided more than 150 people on a 3.2-mile loop through East Sacramento.
“It started out with just locals,” Kistler-McCoy said, “but now we’re getting people from Grass Valley and the Bay Area. We’re reaching people from a wide area.”
The tour stops at such sites as the McKinley rose garden, Club Raven and that big blue house on 44th Street.
“My favorite stop is the same as everybody else’s; I love the big blue house,” Kistler-McCoy said. “The owners (Chris and Amy Wood) have been just fantastic; they’re so receptive.”
That Sacramento hospitality shines through the whole “Lady Bird” experience.
“We’re really having a ‘moment’ with this film,” said Lucy Steffens, Sacramento’s film commissioner. “We’re all waiting with bated breath.”
Steffens plans to watch Oscar Night with a small group of friends. “I don’t want a lot of distractions,” she said. “I want to see and hear everything. Greta also is a presenter.”
“Lady Bird” already has been a huge winner for Gerwig’s hometown, Steffens noted.
“It’s provided tremendous visibility for our area,” she said. “So many travel stories: New York Times, Travel & Leisure, the (London) Guardian. From that point of view, we’re very fortunate to get all that positive coverage.”
Someday, Sacramento may celebrate Gerwig in her own right, Steffens said. “Nothing definite yet; we’re talking about some ideas. ... Greta has said she wants to make more Sacramento films, but she’s been so busy with awards season – all around the world, Berlin, London, now L.A. again for Oscar Night. We want to give her a chance to chill (before asking).”
Gerwig will have plenty of Sacramento fans pulling for her – wherever they’re watching.
“We should all keep our collected fingers crossed,” Steffens said. “I so hope she wins.”
‘Lady Bird’ on Oscar Night
Oscar telecast: 5 p.m. Sunday Channel 10
St Francis’ Red Carpet Gala: 4:30 p.m. Sunday, St. Francis High School, 5900 Elvas Ave., Sacramento. Tickets: $25. www.stfrancishs.org
Club Raven Oscar Party: 5 p.m. Sunday, Club Raven, 3246 J St., Sacramento. Free admission.