This actress’s oscar nom shocked movie buffs. Now the Academy is investigating

This actress’s oscar nom shocked movie buffs. Now the Academy is investigating
Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie. Photo: Screenshot

When the 2023 Academy Awards nominations were announced on January 24, one name in the Best Actress in a Leading Role category drew some attention. Many casual observers were likely surprised to see Andrea Riseborough’s name alongside Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Ana de Armas, and Michelle Williams. And those who had been following this year’s Oscar campaigns likely raised an eyebrow.

Now, The New York Times reports that questions raised by Riseborough’s unexpected nomination have led the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to scrutinize the campaign that preceded it. The Academy will reportedly take up the issue at a previously scheduled meeting today.

Riseborough is nominated for her starring role in To Leslie, an indie film in which she plays a single mother struggling with addiction. The film was on almost no one’s Oscar radar until a few weeks ago, when A-list stars began posting about it on social media seemingly out of nowhere, just as voting on nominations began.

“I don’t post a lot about films or actor performances…maybe I should more often. But for those interested in really great acting I’ll share that Andrea Riseborough’s portrayal in ‘To Leslie’ just knocked me sideways,” Edward Norton wrote in an Instagram post on January 10.

“Andrea should win every award there is and all the ones that haven’t been invented yet,” Gwyneth Paltrow wrote of Riseborough, also on Instagram, the following day after having hosted a screening of the film.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Sarah Paulson, and Courtney Cox also hosted To Leslie screenings, while Helen Hunt, Mira Sorvino, Rosie O’Donnell, Alan Cumming, Tan France, and many other celebs praised both the film and Riseborough specifically on social media.

And the actress certainly drew praise from critics as well. THR’s Sheri Linden called Riseborough’s performance “riveting perfection.” The Times’ Beandrea July wrote that she “gives a deft performance…in this deceptively simple yet heart-wrenching character study.” Riseborough received a Spirit Award nomination for best lead performance and a Chicago Film Critics Association nomination for best actress.

But the last-minute social media push from fellow actors gave some awards season watchers pause, wondering whether the campaign was indeed a grassroots effort or something more calculated. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Riseborough’s nomination may have blocked Black actors like Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler from nominations.  

“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Till director Chinonye Chukwu wrote on Instagram the day the Oscar nominations were announced.

As the Times reports, the Academy is likely to take a closer look at whether the campaign violated its rules, which forbid individuals from “contacting academy members directly and in a manner outside of the scope of these rules to promote a film or achievement for Academy Award consideration.”

“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,” the Academy said in a statement.

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