(CNN Spanish) — Andrea Riseborough may not be a name that sounds like much to the average moviegoer. But chances are your favorite actor from that movie you love so much knows exactly who he is. And they want me to win a oscar.
It’s, frankly, a strange story, beginning in October with the limited release of a short-lived independent film called To Leslie, which tells what happens when a single mother wins the lottery and runs out of money. Riseborough stars as the lead, Leslie, in a performance widely praised by critics as one of the best jobs of his career.
Last week, Riseborough was nominated for a best actress Oscar, her first nomination.
But there were doubts about her nomination, which came after very public pressure from several big Hollywood stars, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Amy Adams. This week, without specifically mentioning Riseborough or To Leslie, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said it was investigating this year’s campaign proceedings to ensure no rules were broken. (Contacting Academy members to promote a film or lobby for an award is prohibited.)
But after announcing a review of the Oscar nomination campaigns, Bill Kramer, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, issued the following statement to CNN on Tuesday:
“Based on the concerns that were raised last week around the campaign of To Leslie, the Academy began a review of the film’s campaign tactics. The Academy has determined that the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded. However, we discovered social media and outreach campaign tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed directly with the responsible parties.”
Here’s everything you need to know:
To Lesliecritically acclaimed, but not by the general public
Until recently, most Americans had not heard of To Leslie. Premiering at South by South West in March, the film only grossed $27,000 at the box office during its limited release.
This month, that changed when some of the biggest names in cinema endorsed the film. Paltrow praised the film on Instagramsaying that Riseborough should win every prize, including “every one yet to be invented”.
Adams arranged a conversation with Riseborough and director Michael Morris, and rated the movie of “incredible, incredible cinematographic feat”.
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 have posted almost identical statements supportive of the film, calling it a “little movie with a giant heart”. Some have compared it to a copy-paste job.
The Riseborough campaign is not something new
Although a celebrity-endorsed campaign is not strictly a grassroots campaign, the campaign for Riseborough and To Leslie resembles one. Rarely do celebrities endorse a film they don’t star in in this way, making Riseborough’s rapid rise unique.
But it is not the first time that an actor has publicly tried to get an Oscar on his own. A decade ago, actress Melissa Leo staged her own photo shoot and took out her own ads with the tagline “For Her Consideration.” Leo at the time was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in The Fighter of 2010.
“This whole award-giving process, to some degree, is about prostitution,” declared to The New York Times in 2011. Leo won the award.
industry watchers have pointed that the solicitation of votes is often done to level the playing field, in this case, to draw attention to a little-known, small-budget film. The difference now lies in social networks, which make this impulse public instead of doing it behind closed doors.
However, not all of the actors have Riseborough’s contacts. Critics of the nominations noted that Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (till), two black actresses who were considered favorites, were not nominated for the award. (Both films also drew larger audiences at the box office.)
The problem of diversity in the Academy has been around for a long time. debating and analyzing. And although Riseborough is not to blame for the snubs, some have pointed out that the campaign behind her demonstrates just how much of an advantage it is to have famous white friends.
The investigation of the Academy gives something to talk about
On Friday, the Academy had announced a “review of campaign procedures surrounding this year’s nominees,” according to a statement obtained by CNN. The Academy did not specifically mention Riseborough or celebrity pressure for her nomination. Later it was learned that it was about that case.
Christina Ricci, star of the Emmy-nominated series yellowjacketscalled the Academy’s decision to review the proceedings “very backwards,” in a since-deleted Instagram post.
“Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money wasn’t spent to position this actress) for a legitimately brilliant performance is met with an investigation,” he wrote, according to Deadline. “So only movies and actors who can afford to campaign deserve recognition? It seems elitist and exclusive.”
Has there ever been an annulment? There is a precedent: In 2014, composer Bruce Broughton received an Oscar nomination for the title song of Alone Yet Not Alone Y he was subsequently disqualified for his campaign.
Regardless of celebrity endorsements, Riseborough faces fierce competition in the category, from the likes of Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Cate Blanchett (tar).
One thing’s for sure: you’re going to need more popcorn.
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The Academy decides not to rescind Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination: why is there controversy?
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