Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination stands after academy review
At the end of a week of debate and hand-wringing in Hollywood over Andrea Riseborough’s surprise Oscar nomination for leading actress for the little-seen film To Leslie, the film academy announced on Tuesday that the nomination would stand, although it promised to keep it to refine and clarify the rules surrounding the campaign for the awards.
The decision, made by the Academy’s Board of Governors, came just days after the organization announced it was conducting a review of this year’s nominations to ensure the aggressive grassroots campaign that led to Riseborough’s nomination was not against theirs violates the rules of the election campaign.
“The Academy has determined that the activity in question does not reach the level that the film’s nomination should be revoked,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer wrote in a statement. “However, we have uncovered social media and outreach campaign tactics that have given rise to concern. These tactics are discussed directly with those responsible.
The purpose of the Academy’s campaign regulations is to ensure a fair and ethical award process – these are core values of the Academy,” Kramer continued. “In light of this review, it is evident that there is a need to clarify components of the regulations to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive and impartial campaigning. These changes will be made after this award cycle and communicated to our members. The Academy strives to create an environment where voting is based solely on the artistic and technical merits of eligible films and performances.”
Riseborough’s unexpected nod for her role as an addict battling her demons was fueled by a brief but intense grassroots campaign of emails, social media posts and screenings to highlight her performance, featuring A-listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron and others support the cause.
Riseborough’s nomination for a film that grossed just $27,000 at the box office quickly became the talk of the industry, with some quietly questioning whether the aggressive lobbying — led by Riseborough’s manager Jason Weinberg and actress Mary McCormack, wife of ” To Leslie director Michael Morris – broke Academy rules on Oscar campaigns.
The debate over Riseborough’s nomination was fueled by the nominees’ exclusions of Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”), both of whom were considered strong contenders.
In a post on Instagram following the nominations, Till director Chinonye Chukwu suggested the results indicate systemic bias in the industry, though she wasn’t directly referring to Riseborough. “We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressive in maintaining whiteness and maintaining an unabashed misogyny towards black women,” Chukwu wrote. (Whoopi Goldberg, a producer and co-star on “Till,” sits on the academy’s board of directors, representing the acting branch.)
The academy maintains a set of rules about what’s permissible when vying for nominations, which has been updated regularly as the ever-escalating Oscar campaign arms race has become more expensive and intense. The rules govern everything from the number of emails studios can send to academy voters to the type of food and drink that can be served at screenings (only “not excessive” refreshments, nothing too lavish ).
When it comes to individual lobbying, the Academy’s rules prohibit “contacting academy members directly and in a manner outside the scope of these rules to promote a film or performance for Oscar consideration.” However, as many have pointed out, soliciting votes for friends and allies through personal connections is a practice practically as old as the Oscars themselves.
Insiders say the academy has never received any complaints about the Riseborough campaign, suggesting the review was driven less by specific allegations and more by more nebulous public perception concerns.
To highlight how sensitive the issue had become for the academy, the mere fact that the academy was conducting a nomination review drew backlash from some of Riseborough’s supporters.
Comedian and actor Marc Maron, who co-stars in To Leslie with Riseborough, blew up the decision on his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. “It was serious, the campaign, and it’s not undeserved,” Maron said Monday of grassroots support for Riseborough. “But I’m glad the Academy – at the behest of special and corporate interests and paranoia about what they look like – is conducting an investigation. Who gives af-?”
Actress Christina Ricci slammed the review as “elitist” and “backward” in an Instagram post. “Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money went unexpended to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is faced with scrutiny,” Ricci wrote. “So it’s only the films and actors who can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition?”
Director Rod Lurie echoed that sentiment in a Facebook post, calling the review “idiotic” and “insulting.” “The fact that this actor and his performance has garnered grassroots attention is fair and touching to me,” Lurie wrote. “In fact, I would say it’s a more honest way to garner attention than through the myriad of parties and buffets that the bigger movies can and do provide (which I LOVE and appreciate).”
Some had speculated that the organization might withdraw Riseborough’s nomination, leaving the Leading Actress category with just four nominees, but the organization stopped short of such a penalty step.
The academy has only withdrawn a handful of nominations in its nearly 100-year history — and never for an actor. In 2014, the original song nominee “Alone Yet Not Alone” was disqualified after it was discovered that its composer, Bruce Broughton, had emailed some members of the Academy’s music department to alert some members of the Academy’s music department to the song’s submission, which violated the rules of the Academy violated. In 2017, recording engineer Greg P. Russell was stripped of his nomination for the film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi for similar reasons.
Those who supported Riseborough’s nomination – including Kate Winslet, who hosted a virtual Q&A with the actress earlier this month – argue that in the end, the merits of her work were more responsible for the nomination than any campaign tactics.
“This nomination was hard won for her,” Winslet told The Times last week. “She worked and worked for years and pushed herself forward. None of this is easy. This nomination is deeply deserved.”
Times contributor Glenn Whipp contributed to this report.
https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2023-01-31/oscars-nominations-2023-andrea-riseborough-review-complete Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination stands after academy review