Alums get Oscar nods for 14th-straight year

Two SF State alums have been nominated for Academy Awards, marking the 14th-straight year of Oscar nods for University alumni.

A photo of SF State alum Ethan van der Ryn.

Alum Ethan van der Ryn has received an Oscar nomination for sound editing on "Argo." Credit: Ann Johansson

Ethan Van der Ryn (B.A., '85) has been nominated for Best Sound Editing for "Argo," the true story of a covert operation to rescue American diplomats during the Iranian hostage crisis. David Gropman (B.A., '74) received a nomination for Best Production Design for his work on "Life of Pi," a film about a boy stranded at sea on a small lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Gropman was a theatre arts major at SF State, and Van der Ryn majored in cinema.

"We take great pride in the work we do here to prepare students for a career in cinema, and it is rewarding to see them not only succeed professionally at a high level but to be recognized by their peers for their work," said Professor and Chair of Cinema Daniel Bernardi. "We focus on helping students understand how they can use film to creatively and artistically express themselves, and that's what I believe helps them to do well."

A photo of SF State alum David Gropman.

Alum David Gropman has received an Oscar nomination for production design on "Life of Pi." Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The nomination is the fifth for Van der Ryn, who won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing in 2003 for "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," and in 2006 for "King Kong." He was also nominated for Best Sound Editing in 2008 for "Transformers" and in 2012 for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Other films Van der Ryn has worked on include "Kung Fu Panda 2," "X-Men" and "Titanic."

Gropman's nomination for "Life of Pi" is his second, following an Oscar nod in 2000 for Best Art Direction for "The Cider House Rules." His other film credits include "Doubt," "Chocolat" and "Searching for Bobby Fischer." For "Life of Pi," Gropman's work included designing the 100-feet by 200-feet wide water tank in which much of the movie was filmed. "It was a very, very long job, and I had a great time with David," director Ang Lee told SF State Magazine last year. "He's reliable, hard-working, friendly and does great design."

A photo from the film

Alum David Gropman designed the 100-feet by 200-feet water tank in which much of "Life of Pi" was filmed. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

SF State alumni are no strangers to the red carpet, receiving multiple Oscar nominations and wins over the past two decades. Past Academy Award-winners include: Christopher Boyes (B.A., '85) for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing in 2006 for "King Kong" and Best Sound Editing in 2004 for "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", in 2002 for "Pearl Harbor" and in 1998 for "Titanic"; Gloria Borders (B.A. '78), Best Sound Effects Editing for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," 1991; Steve Zaillian (B.A. '75), Best Adapted Screenplay in 1994 for "Schindler's List;" and Shawn Murphy (B.A. '68), Best Sound Editing for "Jurassic Park" in 1993. SF State nominees include Annette Bening (B.A., '85), whose most recent of four Oscar nods came in 2011 for "The Kids are All Right."

ABC will air the 85th Academy Awards at 4 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday, Feb. 24. For more information and a full list of nominees, visit To find more SF State alumni excelling in film and television, visit To learn more about SF State's Cinema Department, visit To learn more about SF State's Theatre Arts Department, visit

-- Jonathan Morales