Hollywood’s motion picture academy will not revoke the unexpected best actress nomination for To Leslie star Andrea Riseborough, the group’s chief executive said on Tuesday (Jan 31) after a review of an aggressive campaign on her behalf.
Riseborough was nominated for best actress for playing an alcoholic single mother in the little-seen film, a shock to awards pundits who had not expected her to be in the mix.
The surprise nomination sparked questions about whether a campaign for Riseborough had violated lobbying rules set by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Shortly ahead of nominations, Riseborough was propelled into the race after a host of celebrities hosted screenings of To Leslie and numerous A-listers promoted her on social media.
After appeals from To Leslie director Michael Morris and his wife, actor Mary McCormack, Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Amy Adams and Courteney Cox all hosted screenings of the film. Riseborough, a well-regarded British actor, was unexpectedly catapulted into the best-actress race despite the very small audience for To Leslie (about US$27,000 in box office).
On Tuesday, Academy CEO Bill Kramer said the organisation “has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded”.
“However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly,” Kramer added.
The academy limits how studios can reach out to voters, how often and what they can say in any communications as part of their Oscars campaigns.
“Given this review, it is apparent that components of the regulations must be clarified to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive, and unbiased campaigning,” said Kramer. “These changes will be made after this awards cycle and will be shared with our membership. The academy strives to create an environment where votes are based solely on the artistic and technical merits of the eligible films and achievements.”
Along with Riseborough, the nominees are: Cate Blachett (Tar), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Ana de Armas (Blonde) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once).
Notably left out of best actress contention were Viola Davis (Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till).
Winners of the Academy Awards will be announced on Mar 12.