And The Winner Is… The Bay Area’s Best Oscar Parties

February 21, 2013 5:00 AM

The 2013 Academy Awards are coming up on February 24. To get into the spirit, here are places around the San Francisco Bay Area to party like a movie star. Some even benefit charities while guests enjoy food, champagne and wine from Bay Area restuarants, caterers and wineries, plus silent auctions, raffles and drawings. Dress up in your own style or costume as your favorite film personality. But most importantly, sit back and enjoy your night of glam.

Oscar Experience
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
1117 4th St.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 454-1222

Date: Feb. 24

Oscar Experience is an official event sanctioned by the Academy, so many local filmmakers and technical talent attend rather than celebrities. Guests have loved having their picture taken with nine-time Oscar winner Dennis Muren’s statuette, which he brought last year. He has won for visual effects and worked on just about every astounding sci-fi film you can name. Presented by the non-profit California Film Institute, proceeds go to support film education and outreach. Oscar Experience for the 85th annual Academy Awards takes place at Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael with a 30-foot screen in a state-of-the-art theater with a live HD telecast. Guests enjoy a gourmet boxed dinner, Coppola wine, coffee, desserts, a raffle, a silent auction and the live telecast. Francis Ford Coppola sponsors the wine exclusively and the silent auction includes a refrigerator full of 36 bottles of his wine.

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito
10070 San Pablo Ave.
El Cerrito, CA 94530
(510) 273-9102

Date: Feb. 24

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito shows the Oscars live on the big screen and serves a special Oscar cocktail and appetizers. The theater invites you to dress up as anybody from the 1970s for “Argo” to a ballgown for “Anna Karenina.” Prizes go out to the best costume, to the movie trivia winner and to the guest who picks the correct winners for Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Picture. This unofficial party takes place at the historic neighborhood theater in the East Bay’s Rialto Cinemas Cerrito, which serves beer and wine. The theater also shows the nominee “Les Miserables” as a regular movie feature, up for eight Oscars.

Napa Valley Academy Awards Telecast Viewing Party
Robert Mondavi Vineyards
7801 St. Helena Highway
Napa Valley, CA 94574
(707) 738-4040

Date: Feb. 24

This unofficial party and optional VIP sit-down dinner benefits the HIV/AIDS and Cancer Case Management Programs of the CARE Network at Queen of the Valley Medical Center. Twenty-five chefs from the Napa Valley participate and Mondavi pairs the tasty treats with wine. The walk-around part of the evening features silent auction items and balloon prizes. Separate chefs prepare each course at the sit-down VIP dinner.

Related: Best Hipster Hangout Spots In San Francisco

Variety Children’s Charity of Northern California Academy Awards Cocktail Party
582 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 781-3894

Date: Feb. 24

The Variety Children’s Charity cocktail party happens at its private theater in the Financial District. This unofficial viewing party includes wine, beer and champagne with the catering. This is an intimate event at a private theater run by the non-profit. The historic Hobart Building houses the theater. The location is easily accessible from the Montgomery Street BART station.

Oscar Statues (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Oscar Statues (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Balboa Theatre Oscar Party
3630 Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 221-8184

Date: Feb. 24

The Balboa Theater encourages guests to dress up as their favorite nominees or stars to add to the celebrities promenading on the runway. Now’s the time to emulate Scarlett Johansson’s hair and makeup in “Hitchcock.” Put on your captain’s stripes as Denzel Washington in “Flight” or a stove pipe hat as Lincoln with Sally Field as Mary Todd. It’s competitive and the theater awards prizes for your costume efforts. Stay satiated with beer and wine available for purchase.

Related: Best San Francisco Bars To Eavesdrop

Academy of Friends 33rd Annual Gala
Terra Gallery
511 Harrison St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 995-9890

Date: Feb. 24

The Academy of Friends raises money for AIDS services and throws one big party. Boas, Bowties & Bubbly will be a tribute to the style of the Roaring 20s. Watch the 85th annual Academy Awards on multiple screens then enjoy entertainment by RuPaul’s Drag Race Finalists. A great dance party will follow. Enjoy food from many Bay Area restaurants and wines from many wineries. VIPs enjoy a more intimate lounge and exclusive spirits and food.

Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on

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