The Academy is now "conducting a review" of Andrea Riseborough's To Leslie nomination
The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences released a statement this afternoon, revealing that it was “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.” And while said statement very carefully did not include the words “Riseborough,” “Leslie,” or “Andrea” (“to” did manage to slip its way in), it’s not hard to figure out what this is actually all about.
Which is to say that some people close to the Academy are clearly not happy that Andrea Riseborough managed to score a Best Actress nomination this week for her movie To Leslie, a film that very people appear to have seen (outside of some of Andrea Riseborough’s famous and very vocal supporters.) Despite this, the movie was subject to what’s been described as an “aggressive” social media push that assembled a number of A-list stars (including Edward Norton, Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda, and others) who all touted Riseborough’s work in Michael Morris’s film.
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Obviously, it’s not against Academy rules to campaign for an Oscar—the “For Your Consideration” push is an accepted part of the Hollywood life cycle at this point, built into the advertising budgets of any movie that the studios seem to think has half a chance in hell of catching a statue. But there are rules about how you can go about it—and while nobody’s cited any exact violations yet, it’s also clear that members of the Academy are annoyed enough about Riseborough’s nomination for a very little-seen movie that they’re willing to go looking for some. (Among other things, Variety has already dug up an email from Morris’ wife, actress Mary McCormack, telling various big Hollywood names that “If you’re willing to post [about the film] every day between now and Jan 17th [the last day of Oscar nomination voting], that would be amazing!”)
There’s an open question here, then, of whether there’s anything fundamentally wrong with this kind of grassroots Oscars organizing. Most of the stars praising Riseborough’s performance seem to be doing so genuinely; the issue is that they only did so after being aggressively campaigned to watch the film in the first place, and then were encouraged to be as vocal about their appreciation as possible afterward. It’s worth noting that the Academy has pulled nominations for this kind of thing in the past, although it’s exceedingly rare. (Musician Bruce Broughton had a song nomination yanked in 2014, after it was found that he’d reached out to fellow members of the Academy’s music branch to make them aware of his work.)
No word yet on when the Academy is expected to release the results of its review. Here’s their full statement from today:
It is the Academy’s 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,” the statement reads. “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. We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures, and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances.
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