The Andrea Riseborough nomination "controversy"

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For years we have heard anecdotally that studios spend millions in promotion of films/performances to receive nominations. The shadiness was amplified in my eyes when two streaming services won BP back to back (CODA/Apple) and (Nomadland/Hulu/Disney). This year one of the larger stories was the nomination of Andrea Riseborough who stars in a film called "To Leslie".

Riseborough is not a household name but you've likely seen her in films before. She was in Birdman



Anywho people had started a grass roots word of mouth campaign for her. A number of people had worked with her over the years and knew she is a great actress. And had she been black...I don't think we're having this discussion.

Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler were competing and likely 6th and 7th in the voting results. Perhaps splitting the voter base. Hollywood has been pushing an overt PC agenda for the past several years. Now apparently no actor is allowed to lobby for their film...Riseborough didn't do this other people were promoting the film/performance and it went viral.

It's very strange and troubling that Hollywood is pushing inclusivity agenda outwardly but internally they are going after the smallest of small films. So what do you people think about this situation?



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It's very strange and troubling that Hollywood..... are going after the smallest of small films.
You think 'To Leslie' is the 'smallest of small films'? It's really not. There are sometimes a couple of indie films that make awards lists, outside the normal 95% of bigger mainstream ones that have big campaigns.

Marc Maron, Stephen Root, Alison Janney, Riseborough all invovled. They are not small names.

'To Leslie' is a good film and Riseborough is very good in it. But if they were really going after 'small films', then there are many others that would have been nominated (and perhaps should have been) ahead of Riseborough / Deadwyler.



Haven't seen any of the performances mentioned above, yet.
From what I've seen in clips it looks like an intense and impressive performance.
This whole situation looks like 'First World Problems' or a clever free publicity campaign.

But what do I know, my favorite female performance so far is Frankie Corio in Aftersun.




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It was a great performance, but it wasn't better than Danielle Deadwyler.
It wasn't better than loads of others - but these things are so personal to any individual, when we become attached to a film, we want it to do so well. And become dumbfounded and frustrated when other films do better at awards. I'll be trying to ignore the oscars like I do every year for this very reason. It doesn't reward 'the best'.





To me this "controversy" would have more teeth if it didn't come in the exact same Oscar year that Brian Tyree Henry got a pretty big surprise nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Causeway, another small movie that "nobody" had seen and did not have a lot of momentum, either. That is an Apple Original so it surely had more visibility than To Leslie...but not a whole lot. In or out of the industry, I suspect if you randomly polled a few hundred people a few weeks ago very, very few would have heard of either movie.

So instead of celebrating the fact that this smaller movie broke through for a big nomination we have this supposed controversy. There are only five spots in the four acting categories. There hasn't been a year in Oscar history that you can't find arguments both in real time and looking backwards that different performances should have been/could have been/might have been nominated. That is the nature of the beast. Both Riseborough and Henry got Independent Spirit nominations back in December...before Gwyneth Paltrow had Tweeted her support.

And of course there is nothing wrong with nor against the rules in friends and admirers publicly endorsing a performance. The only actual rule that may have been bent/broken is in one social media post. One. In a January 14th Instagram post actress Frances Fisher (Titanic, Unforgiven) stated, "Seems to be that Viola, Michelle, Danielle & Cate are a lock for their outstanding work. Watch TO LESLIE on the Academy Screening Room app and join the groundswell of support to honor Andreaís fine work.Ē It is against the rules for campaign ads to mention other eligible performances you may be up against. Although obviously Frances Fisher is not a Studio nor an Agency, nor working on their behalf. Nor did she denigrate anyone else, she simply listed the names of some of the perceived favorites. And she listed first names, so I guess she meant Michelle Yeoh and not Michelle Williams?

Anyway. For anyone thinking the Academy may somehow take back her nomination, that ain't gonna happen. When it is aimed at politics I think this hyper-reflexive conspiratorial lens that so many have these days can be dangerous, and when it is pointed at pop culture I find it incredibly boring.

For their part, The Academy has stated, "It is the Academyís 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 yearís 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."
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Anyway. For anyone thinking the Academy may somehow take back her nomination, that ain't gonna happen. When it is aimed at politics I think this hyper-reflexive conspiratorial lens that so many have these days can be dangerous, and when it is pointed at pop culture I find it incredibly boring.
Holden 2024
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To me this "controversy" would have more teeth if it didn't come in the exact same Oscar year that Brian Tyree Henry got a pretty big surprise nomination as Best Supporting Actor for Causeway, another small movie that "nobody" had seen and did not have a lot of momentum, either. That is an Apple Original so it surely had more visibility than To Leslie...but not a whole lot. In or out of the industry, I suspect if you randomly polled a few hundred people a few weeks ago very, very few would have heard of either movie.
I saw Causeway & liked it very much & To Leslie is in my Netflix Q.
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Holden is absolutely right on this. There are always performances that many feel are worthy that are not nominated. I've only seen two of the nominated performances, Blanchett's and Williams', so I can't speak to whether these other women that were not nominated should have been in place of Andrea or not. At the same time, I think it's a wonderful thing that a little seen performance, that made virtually nothing at the box office, was able to get a nomination that likely wouldn't have happened if not for the huge groundswell of support that Andrea's performance received. I do think that it is inappropriate to mention other actresses performances during the nomination period, since the way that Tweet is phrased, it seemed like the intent was to encourage people not to vote for those other women, and to instead vote for Andrea because those other women already had enough support. That seems inappropriate to me.

However, I think it is quite unlikely that Francis Fisher's tweet was the sole cause, or even the primary cause, of Andrea's nomination. I read articles that there were quite a number of Hollywood insiders that hosted screenings and that advocated for Andrea to be nominated, and Blanchett specifically complimented it when she won one of her own awards, so I think it's more likely that that caused more members of the Academy to seek out the performance, watch it, and independently determine to nominate her. If that is accurate, then I think the result was righteous, and I hope more performances are able to receive nominations without having multi-million dollar campaigns behind them, even though Fisher's specific actions may not have been ok. If the Academy wants to sanction Fisher for violating a pre-established policy on that basis, that's fine, and I can see an argument for that to discourage others from doing similarly in the future, but I wouldn't take away Andrea's nomination because of that, and I think it devalues the performance to assume that she wouldn't have gotten nominated without the tweet.



However, I think it is quite unlikely that Francis Fisher's tweet was the sole cause, or even the primary cause, of Andrea's nomination. I read articles that there were quite a number of Hollywood insiders that hosted screenings and that advocated for Andrea to be nominated, and Blanchett specifically complimented it when she won one of her own awards, so I think it's more likely that that caused more members of the Academy to seek out the performance, watch it, and independently determine to nominate her. If that is accurate, then I think the result was righteous, and I hope more performances are able to receive nominations without having multi-million dollar campaigns behind them...
Yeah, I don't think anyone has implied Fisher's post was a deciding factor, just that of all the many messages of support and attention that she got from friends of admirers, some of them A-listers, that Fisher's was the only one that may have broken a rule. That the grassroots support generated by a good performance is being overshadowed by vague consipracy theories is too bad. The best result would be that it gets more people to watch To Leslie, Till, and The Woman King and decide for themselves.



Fisher for violating a pre-established policy on that basis, that's fine, and I can see an argument for that to discourage others from doing similarly in the future,
Yeah that's kinda what makes this whole thing gross to me. That this organization is threatening people for word of mouth performances. The academy isn't getting their cut from this individuals campaign and you have this uncomfortable feeling that if this were a POC no way would the academy single her out. To me this is naked manipulation from organizations that both want specific results and want to profit from those results.

I saw Till, Deadwyler's performance was good but it wasn't a top five and might not be a top ten performance for me for the year.



I initially thought that Frances Fisher's tweet was the major infraction people are criticizing, but it seems like it may be broader than that. Can anyone who is following this let me know, what objectively are the other concerns? Was there any other arguably legitimate wrongdoing? If so, what is it that is being alleged? Was it done by Andrea or her staff, the studio, or others in Hollywood who simply liked the movie? Or, alternatively, is this controversy mostly driven by studios which would like to continue buying Oscar nominations via lavish Oscar campaigns who dislike losing their influence, and which would be battling against anyone, regardless of the circumstances, who they saw as responsible for that influence waning?



I initially thought that Frances Fisher's tweet was the major infraction people are criticizing, but it seems like it may be broader than that. Can anyone who is following this let me know, what objectively are the other concerns? Was there any other arguably legitimate wrongdoing? If so, what is it that is being alleged?
So I am only half following this, but I think that there are a few factors at play.

First, I think that a lot of people are salty about essentially a grassroots campaign driven by e-mails and social media managing to swing enough influence to garner a nomination. I honestly see money as the main driver here and people not liking it when someone bucks the established system.

Second, there are some genuine concerns about what is "in bounds" when it comes to campaigning. People who are up for awards (or PR firms helping the people up for awards) are not supposed to send promotional materials directly to Academy members. Traditionally this has meant literal stuff, but would a Tweet/Instagram post fall under this? Hmmm. So if I'm not allowed to personally reach out to people A, B, and C, is it "legal" for me to get in touch with my movie actor friend D and have him directly contact A, B, and C? Back in 2014, Bruce Broughton had his best song nomination rescinded because he'd directly contacted Academy members to ask them to listen to his song. (This case was a bit different because Broughton had more of a position of power within the Music portion of the Academy). Nicolas Chartier sent e-mails directly to Academy members after being nominated in which he crap-talked Avatar. His punishment was not being allowed to attend the ceremony.

(Note about the second point above: It could be that wealthier studios have also found clever ways to circumvent the whole "no contact" thing.)

Third, there are rumors (RUMORS!!!!) that there may have been more communications/e-mails (aside from the one Frances Fisher tweet) that mentioned the other nominees, basically along that same line of "these people are a lock, how about voting for Andrea instead?". If there are multiple communications (and communications from people more directly involved with the campaign) that mention other nominees, I think that's unfortunate and doesn't seem right.

I think that more than ever, social media has blurred the line between personal and professional communication. So, yes, this was a word-of-mouth campaign . . . but also there were two different PR firms involved, from what I've read. It seems like the Academy needs to update and clarify their policies on communication around nominations/voting to catch up with the current social media landscape.



Yeah, I don't think anyone has implied Fisher's post was a deciding factor, just that of all the many messages of support and attention that she got from friends of admirers, some of them A-listers, that Fisher's was the only one that may have broken a rule. That the grassroots support generated by a good performance is being overshadowed by vague consipracy theories is too bad. The best result would be that it gets more people to watch To Leslie, Till, and The Woman King and decide for themselves.
Curious what one of the three you thought to be best?