Christina Ricci shouts out Oscar’s ‘To Leslie’ review
Andrea Riseborough’s nomination for Best Actress is secure, although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences conducted a “review of campaign procedures” following the actor’s surprise nomination for indie film To Leslie. Although the film was not directly mentioned in the Academy’s original statement, the review was in response to the film’s Hollywood-backed Oscar campaign. After the news, actress Christina Ricci called the Oscars “elitist” when it comes to their campaign procedures.
On Jan. 31, the Academy shared a statement with POPSUGAR from its CEO, Bill Kramer, detailing the outcome of the review. “Based on concerns that surfaced last week surrounding the TO LESLIE Awards campaign, the Academy began a review of the film’s campaign tactics,” the statement said. “The Academy has determined that the level of activity in question is not such that the film’s nomination should be revoked. However, we have identified social media and outreach campaigns that have raised concerns. These tactics are discussed directly with those responsible.”
Kramer continued, “The purpose of the Academy’s campaign regulations is to ensure a fair and ethical award process – these are core values of the Academy. In light of this review, it is evident that components of the regulations need to be clarified in order to create a better framework for respectful, inclusive and impartial campaigning. These changes will be made after this award cycle and shared with our members. The Academy strives to create an environment where voting is based solely on the artistic and technical merits of eligible films and performances.”
Riseborough was nominated after her Hollywood peers hosted private screenings of To Leslie and promoted her through social media. Those who endorsed the actor include her Best Actress nominee Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Charlize Theron, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Courteney Cox, Edward Norton, Jennifer Aniston and Minnie Driver. But per Vanity Fair, there was speculation in Hollywood that the campaign may have violated the academy’s lobbying rules.
A representative from the academy previously shared its initial statement with POPSUGAR. It noted that the review was in part a response to the way films campaign in the digital age. “It is the aim of the Academy 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 said. “We are conducting a review of campaign procedures surrounding this year’s nominees to ensure no policy violations have occurred and to inform us if policy changes may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communications. We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting processes and support genuine grassroots campaigns for excellence.”
Following the announcement, Ricci urged the Academy to tarnish Riseborough’s reputation and maintain a system that tends to primarily recognize films backed by large-scale, studio-funded awards campaigns. “Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money went unspent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is facing scrutiny,” she commented on Variety’s Instagram post of the news. “So it’s only the films and actors who can afford the campaigns that deserve credit? Feels elitist and exclusive to me and frankly very backward.”
Ricci continued, “And I’m sure it had nothing to do with the campaign. These things are not controlled and decided by the actors themselves, and yet their nomination is now tainted by it. And when it is taken from them, they are ashamed. “
After the Oscar nominations were announced, Riseborough spoke to Deadline about how shocked she was when she heard her name. “I’m amazed,” she said. “It’s such an unexpected bright spot. It was so hard to believe it could ever happen because we really weren’t in the running for anything else. Even though we had a lot of support, the idea that it could actually happen seemed so far away… I’m not exactly sure how the hell that happened.
If Riseborough’s nomination had been revoked, her spot in the category would not have been replaced. Only nine nominations have been reversed in the history of the Oscars.