The Academy Is Looking Into Whether Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar Campaign Broke Any Rules
It’s officially Oscar time. Only 45 days until the day after the Academy Awards when we’re treated to a million think pieces angrily wondering why the youth won’t willingly watch a 15-hour broadcast. It’s probably because of all that TikTok-ing! In the meantime, we’ll have to get our Oscar fill by reading up on think pieces about the current crop of nominees and who is more deserving of having the coveted gold paperweight. While Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh should sweep EVERYTHING (yes, even Best Animated Short Film, I don’t care), some nominees are getting the side-eye (cough Andrea Riseborough cough). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has begun an investigation into Andrea’s unusual grassroots campaign to get that OSCUH. Academy members are probably thrilled that this year’s scandal doesn’t involve a slap!
Andrea received a nomination for Best Actress for her performance in the movie To Leslie, a film many had never heard of or seen. It’s a real movie but only received a limited release as it’s a small indie flick. Andrea’s performance received positive reviews upon the film’s premiere at SXSW, which ultimately led the team behind the movie to embark on an atypical Oscar campaign. Having limited resources, the director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack worked with PR firms to ask a little-known group to help promote To Leslie: A-List Hollywood actors. Mary wrote to them, “If you’re willing to post every day between now and Jan 17th [the last day of Oscar nomination voting], that would be amazing!”
Andrea also used some of her own funds to do her own traditional campaigning such as screening events, but it looks like having Cate Blanchett give you a televised shout-out at another awards ceremony is a better approach for getting an Academy Award nod. Multiple other celebs, such as Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, and Edward Norton, also supported Andrea’s bid. It’d be easier to list the ones who DIDN’T tweet about To Leslie.
Upon receiving the nomination, the actress expressed her surprise and delight while the movie-going public went, “Huh?” Now the Academy is getting involved and conducting a review of how For Your Consideration campaigns are conducted. They released a statement communicating their intention to find out what the hell happened here. via The Hollywood Reporter:
It is the Academy’s goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner, and we are committed to ensuring an inclusive awards process.
We are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year’s nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated, and to inform us whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication.
We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures, and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances.
Variety points out that one big issue could be an Instagram post from To Leslie’s page posted two weeks ago. It features a quote from The Chicago-Sun Times’ Richard Roeper, where he wrote that he thinks Andrea Riseborough gave the best performance by an actress this year over Cate’s in Tár:
“As much as I admired Blanchett’s work in ‘Tár,’ my favorite performance by a woman this year was delivered by the chameleonlike Andrea Riseborough in director Michael Morris’ searing drama about a mom at the final crossroads in her life after she’s lost everything due to her drinking. With an insightful script by Ryan Binaco and fine supporting work by Marc Maron, Andre Royo, Allison Janney and Stephen Root, ‘To Leslie’ ranks with ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ and ‘Crazy Heart’ as modern-day classics about the ravages of alcoholism.”
Here’s the post, which has since been taken down:
Variety says that this may have broken an OSCUH campaign rule that forbids any “references to other nominees“:
Part B reads: “any tactic that singles out ‘the competition’ by name or titles is expressly forbidden.”
Though it quotes a critic rather than directly invoking the name of a competing hopeful, the fact that it comes from the film’s official Instagram could still be an issue.
That’s a little ironic since, as I mentioned above, Cate gave Andrea some live onstage at an awards show. Awkward! Actress Frances Fisher also mentioned Richard Roeper’s in her IG post for Andrea and tagged a bunch of members of the Academy’s Actors Branch and added, “There are wonderful actresses in the running, fortunately, backed by multi-million dollar ad campaigns…Acting Branch – please watch To Leslie on Academy Screening Room app- once you do you’ll understand what I’m talking about. #NominateAndreaRiseborough”
In addition to all that, Variety says that To Leslie’s FYC campaign may have pulled a little oopsie when it came to email blasts to members:
The Academy’s e-mail carries a hefty price tag for a self-funded campaign, charging $2,000 per blast to the entire Academy membership. A studio can only purchase one e-mail blast per week. Variety can also confirm that “To Leslie” sent at least three e-mail blasts sent to AMPAS voters, which would have been purchased by Momentum Pictures or Riseborough’s campaign team, including Narrative PR and Shelter PR.
If for any reason the Academy were to rescind her nomination, the best actress lineup would remain at four, and Riseborough would not be replaced.
While the Academy hasn’t straight up called out the campaign, it’s clearly about To Leslie. The Academy very rarely pulls nominations but has done so in the past. As recently as 2014, Bruce Broughton’s song nomination was revoked after it was discovered that he had improperly contacted Academy members to bring attention to his piece. He was an executive committee member of the Academy at the time, so I guess his bold move was a big no-no. There’s no word on when the Academy will come back with its findings. To combat this scandal, I think To Leslie team should simply email Jane Fonda and Amy Adams again to head up the “Andrea did nothing wrong!” campaign. Hey, it worked once; why not implement the tried and true method again?!