Why Andrea Riseborough’s ‘To Leslie’ Oscar Campaign Has People Talking

Why Andrea Riseborough’s ‘To Leslie’ Oscar Campaign Has People Talking


Andrea Riseborough might not be a name that rings a lot of bells for the average movie buff.

But chances are your favorite actor in that movie you love knows exactly who she is. And they want her to win an Oscar.

It’s frankly a strange story – which began in October with the limited release of a small independent film called “To Leslie”, about what happens when a single mother wins the lottery and has no more silver. Riseborough plays the titular Leslie, in a performance widely hailed by critics as one of the best works of her career.

And last week, Riseborough was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, her first Oscar nomination.

But there are questions surrounding his nomination, which came after a very public push from several major Hollywood stars – think Gwyneth Paltrow and Amy Adams. Now, without specifically mentioning Riseborough or “To Leslie,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it’s investigating this year’s campaign proceedings to make sure no rules were broken. (Contacting members of the Academy to promote a film or solicit an award is prohibited.)

So dim the lights and turn on the suspenseful music. Here’s everything you need to know:

Until recently, most Americans hadn’t heard of “To Leslie.” Premiering at South by South West in March, the film earned just $27,000 at the box office during its limited run.

This month, that changed when some of the biggest names in cinema threw their weight behind the film. Paltrow praised the film on Instagram, saying Riseborough should win every award, including “everything that has yet to be invented.”

Adams hosted a chat with Riseborough and director Michael Morris, calling the film “an incredible, unbelievable feat of filmmaking.”

Riseborough in

Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron have also publicly supported the film in various ways, through screenings or moderated discussions.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, other actors posted nearly identical statements supporting the film, calling it “a little movie with a giant heart”. Some have compared it to a copy-paste job.

While a celebrity-backed campaign isn’t strictly a grassroots effort, the push for Riseborough and “To Leslie” comes close. Few celebrities offer this kind of support for a film they don’t star in, which makes Riseborough’s rapid rise unique.

But this isn’t the first time an actor has publicly tried to push for the Oscars on his own. Ten years ago, actress Melissa Leo hosted her own photoshoot and released her own “For Your Consideration” commercials. Leo at the time was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “The Fighter” in 2010.

“This whole awards process, to some extent, is about pimping you,” she told The New York Times in 2011. Leo went on to win the award.

Industry watchers have noted that soliciting votes is often done to level the playing field – in this case, to draw attention to a low-budget, little-known film. The difference now is social media, making this push public rather than one done behind closed doors.

And yet, not all actors have the kind of relationships that Riseborough has. Critics of the nominations pointed out that Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), two black actresses considered favorites, were not nominated for the award. (Both films also garnered wider audiences at the box office.)

The issue of Academy diversity has long been discussed and dissected. And while Riseborough is not responsible for the snubs, some have pointed out that the campaign behind it shows how beneficial it is to have famous white friends.

On Friday, the Academy announced a “review of campaign procedures around this year’s nominees,” according to a statement obtained by CNN.

The Academy did not specifically mention Riseborough, nor the very public celebrity push for his nomination. But many people connect these dots.

Christina Ricci, star of the Emmy-nominated show “Yellowjackets,” called the Academy’s decision to review proceedings “very retrograde,” in a now-deleted Instagram post.

“It seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money wasn’t spent positioning this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being investigated,” he said. she writes, according to Deadline. “So only films and actors can afford campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elite and exclusive.

It’s unclear whether Riseborough’s nomination will actually be overturned. There is precedent – in 2014, composer Bruce Broughton received an Oscar nomination for the title track of “Alone Yet Not Alone” and was subsequently disqualified for his campaign.

Celebrity endorsements aside, Riseborough faces stiff competition in the category, from Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) and Cate Blanchett (Tár).

As the scrum unfolds, one thing is for sure: you’ll need more popcorn.

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