Those who follow the Oscars know that a good performance is only half the job to guarantee your statuette. Years ago, the weight of the marketing campaigns that lead the path to the nomination and, after that, to victory became even clearer. Harvey Weinstein was so aggressive that when Miramax came along it was “small” but loud. His way of working (the backstage of his predatory posture only came to light years later) was seen as effective. He “made” Gwyneth Paltrow, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck award-winning stars before the age of 30, with productions outside the big studio circuit. Let it be clear that they don’t owe him anything, they would be stars in their own right, but he was behind the campaigns that put them in the spotlight. That’s right, campaigns.
Politics to be among the Oscar nominees depends on good work, connection and influence. Only those who have already been nominated can vote, so every member of the Academy counts a lot. And this year the surprise, with all the looks that will be the ‘zebra’ in the category of Best Actress, is Andrea Riseborough for a film that nobody has seen yet, To Leslie, but with some of the most influential lobbyists in the market. However, the discussion of whether Andrea would have ‘kicked the rules’ is tarnishing a unanimously praised performance. A shame!
To Leslie is an independent production that brings Andrea in a performance with all the colors that paint Oscar pictures: no glamour, no makeup, a woman dealing with alcoholism, and the drama of the destruction of alcohol in her life. Defined as the Leaving Las Vegas of the year (a film that earned Nicolas Cage an Oscar), it is such a small production that it has no budget for promotion. Well connected, he found in his influential friends an independent campaign for his nomination, which worked and took the vacancy of other actresses considered favorites, like Viola Davis, for example. In other times, it would be a scandal, but inconsequential. In current times? It is under investigation and the nomination may be withdrawn.
Let it be clear that Andrea Riseborough is a great actress. She has been working in the Industry for years and is adored by all. His nomination is not unfair, but it is a symbol of how campaigns in digital times are being closely monitored. And I say more, if not excluded, she had everything to be the underdog of the year and if she stays, she could be the great favorite of 2023, more than Michele Yeoh.
“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,” reads the Academy’s official statement. “We are reviewing campaign procedures around this year’s nominees to ensure no guidelines were violated and to let us know if policy changes may be necessary for a new era of social media and digital communication. We are confident in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures and support genuine grassroots campaigns for exceptional performance.” Day 31, Tuesday, confirms the decision.
There was no formal complaint against Andrea Riseborough, but the social networks cite two infractions in the campaign: the actress’ agent would have sent emails to members asking to vote for her and the actress Francis Fisher made a post mentioning the competitors by name, highlighting the work of the star of To Leslie compared to them. Both initiatives are expressly prohibited.
What I regret most of all is that Andrea’s likely victory has taken on legendary proportions for the wrong reasons, like Marisa Tomei‘s in the 1990s. Marisa was the only American nominated in the category of Best Supporting Actress, she was among the biggest British stars of the theater and when her name was announced as the chosen one, the version that rolled was that Jack Palance would have “wrong” the name and said hers. Decades later La La Land was effectively announced as Best Film of the year and we saw how it was fixed on the spot. Even with all denials, to this day Marisa is remembered for the fact. Andrea will be too and doesn’t deserve it.
We have just over a month until the Academy Awards ceremony and if voters haven’t already seen To Leslie, now they certainly will. May merit win and Andrea recover from this sad smear campaign against her. And we were saying there would be no dramas at the Oscars 2023. A slap before the party?