On Friday, the movie To Leslie became the talk of Hollywood, for all the wrong reasons. While the Motion Picture Academy didn't mention the film or its star, Andrea Riseborough, many suspected her surprise nomination in the Best Actress category is what prompted the Academy to conduct a "review" of this year's nomination campaigns.
At issue are the rules the Oscars have for lobbying voters for nominations. Generally, it's done in pricey ad campaigns, which, truth told, many bristle at anyway. But when the low-budget To Leslie, which only made around $27,000 in theaters, scored a nom, eyebrows were raised.
Instead of the traditional ads, Variety reports Private Parts actress Mary McCormack, the wife of To Leslie's director, Michael Morris, reached out to her celebrity friends in a grassroots campaign to tout the film. That resulted in praises on social media from the likes of Edward Norton and other stars.
Violating the lobbying rules could result in an actor's nomination being rescinded, but many voters who spoke to Variety anonymously don't think that's going to happen. "Was her campaign aggressive? Absolutely," said one of Riseborough. "She wanted it, but they all do. Meryl [Streep] does, and Cate [Blanchett] does ... The Academy won’t punish her. They can't, or they have to punish all of us."
Another opined, "Nothing will happen ... If they let Will Smith keep his Oscar, taking [her nomination] away would be unimaginably stupid on their part."
Christina Ricci also sounded off on the controversy. In a now-deleted Instagram post quoted by Deadline, Ricci called it elitist, suggesting Riseborough's "brilliant" performance will be "tainted" by it.
"So it's only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition?" she asked. "Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me," she said in part.