Oscars Reviewing Rules After Controversial Nomination

Lobbying campaign to get Andrea Riseborough of 'To Leslie' a nod is under scrutiny
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2023 2:36 PM CST
One Oscar Nomination Is Getting Scrutinized
This image released by Momentum Pictures shows Andrea Riseborough in a scene from "To Leslie."   (Momentum Pictures via AP)

When the Oscar nominations came out last week, the category of best actress had some surprises. Nowhere to be found were Viola Davis of the Woman King or Danielle Deadwyler of Till, both of whom had picked up nominations at other awards shows. Meanwhile, Andrea Riseborough of the small indie film To Leslie scored a nomination after what Puck describes as a "skilled grassroots political campaign." The question now is whether that campaign violated Academy rules. Coverage:

  • A review: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences says it will conduct a review of lobbying campaign procedures in the wake of this year's nominations, reports BuzzFeed. The statement says the Academy aims to make sure the competition is "fair and ethical." It makes no mention of Riseborough's nomination as the potential reason for the review.

  • Big names: The story at Puck reports that actor Mary McCormack, wife of To Leslie director Michael Morris, played a big role in enlisting fellow celebs to campaign for Riseborough. Those who did so include Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Amy Adams, and Cate Blanchett. McCormack and others "emailed and called tons of members of the Academy’s actors branch, begging them to see the little-watched alcoholic drama and post online about Riseborough’s searing performance," writes Matthew Belloni.
  • Any offenses? The Academy says it supports "genuine grassroots" lobbying campaigns. And as Variety notes, "there’s nothing wrong with encouraging Oscar voters to watch a movie by touting its merits." But critics of the Riseborough nomination say this campaign was too aggressive and crossed ethical lines. Still, "critics have yet to find a 'smoking gun' that shows" a clear violation of Academy lobbying rules, writes of Clayton Davis of Variety. The rules are spelled out here, and stories at Puck and Variety delve into the gray areas.
  • Race component: Riseborough is white, while Davis and Deadwyler are Black, a factor that has reignited complaints that the Oscars give short shrift to actors of color, reports the Guardian. Till director Chinonye Chukwu for example, denounced Hollywood for "upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women." Los Angeles Times critic Robert Daniels warned against making Riseborough a scapegoat for a "broken" system that fails Black women.
  • Fallout: If the Academy finds that the lobbying campaign violated rules, it's possible that Riseborough could be stripped of her nomination. However, Variety thinks that is "highly unlikely" to happen.
(More Oscars stories.)

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