DrDepending on one’s interest in film awards, it may or may not be apparent that the work of the Oscars is a roughly year-long affair. Usually, the pieces for an Oscar campaign—a full-time job with its own PR, class schedule, and smaller awards momentum to get enough votes for a nomination—are ready months ahead of schedule. The window provides time to adjust and build the narrative; There’s nothing Hollywood loves more than a comeback or an underdog story (see: This year’s Nominee for Supporting Actor). Ke Huy Quan or Best Actress Competition Michelle Yeoh). Still, even the most savvy of award-savvy followers has been surprised by the so late, star-studded campaign to earn Andrea Riseborough, a British character actress, an Oscar nomination for her lead role in To Leslie, a little-watched indie drama that has grossed barely $27,000 since a small theatrical run in October.
Even in the Hollywood myth-making world of smoke and mirrors, the celebrity muscle display of Riseborough’s performance in recent days seemed bizarre. A couple of weeks ago, there was almost no fanfare for To Leslie, the debut from veteran TV director Michael Morris — a few screenings, but no awards campaign in sight. However, in recent days, a swarm of celebrities have come to bat for the film and, more importantly, Riseborough’s performance as an alcoholic wandering mother from West Texas reeling from six years of shame after wasting a $190,000 lottery prize.
Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett for Tár used the opening minute of her Critics Choice Award acceptance speech on Sunday. select Riseborough has been named one of the most overlooked shows by the awards for “arbitrary” acting. Gwyneth Paltrow hosted a screening of the “masterpiece of film” and said that Riseborough deserved to “win every award out there and every one that hasn’t been invented yet.” In a Q&A moderated by her, Kate Winslet called Riseborough’s act “one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen”. in her Hypothetical questions and answers Hosted on Tuesday Night, Amy Adams praised Riseborough’s “brilliant” performance as a “shift in spirit”.
There are more: Jane Fonda (“A gritty, gritty performance,” “Go and see it!”), Jennifer Aniston (“Beautiful”), Edward Norton (“The most committed, emotionally deep, and physically horrific performance I’ve seen in a while. Just raw and completely devoid of BA performance”), Helen Hunt (“If you vote on shows, don’t until you see Andrea Riseborough”), Melanie Lynskey (“Even For her, this is the next level.” Several celebrities have suddenly and publicly sung Riseborough’s praises with suspiciously similar wording – in social media posts, Mia Farrow, Joe Mantegna, Dulé Hill and Meredith Vieira have all described To Leslie as a “little movie with a giant heart” with Riseborough “giving a performance the year”.
Sudden tide of superlatives – plus a stretch Apparently cut and paste praise — aroused fair skepticism online (and memes, such as the tweet Revising Barack Obama’s list of “Best Movies of 2022” to include To Leslie, an authentication From Riseborough from Baby Annette.) What’s going on? Is this a real intention of goodwill for a talented, lesser-known actor? Last ditch strategy for services? A-list love?
The answer, most likely, is somewhere in between. To Leslie, which co-stars Marc Maron, Owen Teague, Allison Janney, and Stephen Root, is the kind of gritty, poverty-stricken indie drama that draws critical praise and interest but struggles to find distribution and an audience. The film, made for less than $1 million and shot over the course of 19 days, made, once again, barely $27,000 in a limited release; Writer and director Morris Tell The Hollywood Reporter said they couldn’t even afford advertising. Riseborough’s observant performance, in which she transforms into a woman who breaks down after years of alcohol abuse and plays several phases of drunkenness and withdrawal with semi-comic pink-rimmed eyes, is in the award-winning category for being, for lack of a better term, “ugly” or poor. This does not mean that her work is insensitive; She’s remarkably good at playing an uncomfortably loud, pathetic yet resilient drunk. Leslie is a needy whirlpool almost vibrating with shame and a shadow self-weight, one on the ex side of potential who hasn’t made her mistakes. Though the film’s redemption arc seems pretty lousy (and her low-key job in a hotel is an unquantifiable Hollywood vision of working-class struggles), Riseborough’s mutant rises above.
In other words, it’s the kind of intense transformation and total immersion (on a “cellular level,” according to Adams) that would command the respect of the other actors. You would have to be very cynical to believe that some of the enthusiasm for Riseborough’s work was not genuine. Still, like IndieWire mentionedIt is unlikely that there weren’t some behind-the-scenes dealings. Riseborough is represented by the powerful CAA; Celebrity uproar arose at the film’s SXSW premiere when Norton and Theron agreed to host shows after “a few well-placed phone calls” to Morris, who has directed episodes for Bloodline, Better Call Saul, Shameless, and 13 Reasons Why.
On the heels of some word of mouth in Hollywood and Riseborough’s Film Independent Spirit nomination, the Riseborough team strategized a late December Oscar push, the final stretch of what is now a relatively tangible model campaign for the awards. Celebrity Attack, inspired at least in part by The Paltrow Show and Instagram post Last week, in support of her friend Maurice, her timing as a Hail Mary seemed to voters in their final hours. (Academy members voted on nominations Jan. 12-17, which will be announced Jan. 24.)
Whether intentioned, favoritism, or both, the Instagram posts, showrunners, and shout-outs did what no marketing budget shortfall could: interest (or bewilderment) for To Leslie, which was overshadowed by big-budget films, star wattage, distribution, and critical discussion. Further, the bold tribute to Riseborough, an esteemed and talented actor who has hitherto been reputed to be a supporting player rather than a lead. the Andrea Riseborough The movement may have been too little, too late in terms of securing an Academy Award nomination, let alone winning over the most orchestrated campaigns. But as a case study of celebrity networks and strategies for getting the Academy’s attention, it had brief, surprising success.