Andrea Riseborough’s ‘To Leslie’ Oscar Campaign Explained
If there’s one thing indie “To Leslie” doesn’t have, it’s money, a campaign insider told IndieWire. So why are celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kate Winslet suddenly endorsing it?
In Six Degrees of Separation between Gwyneth Paltrow and Andrea Riseborough, the dotted line is not so clear. So what the heck is going on with the Best Actress Oscar campaign for Riseborough’s indie ‘To Leslie’ and why are celebrities from Paltrow to Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Mia Farrow, Are Joe Mantegna, Mira Sorvino, Charlize Theron, Sarah Paulson, Edward Norton, Jennifer Aniston, and Jane Fonda suddenly in support?
During a recent Q&A with Riseborough, moderated by Winslet herself, the co-star called her Riseborough turn in the Michael Morris-directed film “one of the greatest performances of my life.” (Don’t miss out, Amy Adams is on board to moderate her own Q&A today.)
Paltrow called the film a “masterpiece” and said he was “shocked”. Riseborough, who he says deserves to win “every award there is and all the ones that haven’t been invented yet”. While onstage accepting her Critics Choice Award for “THE LIBRARY” on Sunday, Blanchett singled out Riseborough’s performance as an alcoholic single mother in West Texas seeking redemption after squandering her lottery winnings as one of the year’s most overlooked works.
Memes appeared over the weekend – Baby named Annette Riseborough Best Actress! Barack Obama has it revised the list of the best movies of the year to include “To Leslie”! – it seemed like a conspiracy. Remember when Melissa Leo went rogue with her FYC ad campaign for “The Fighter” in 2011, filling the pages of print trade publications with a flashy shot calling out voters to “Consider…”? Or when Sally Kirkland scored a Best Actress nomination for “Anna” in 1987? Or when Mark Rylance won Best Supporting Actor in 2016 for Bridge of Spies despite not campaigning at all? None of them were completely out of left field—all were in the conversation in some form, even if they were fifth or tenth—but “To Leslie” sets an unusual precedent.
On the one hand, is Hollywood really so cynical and jaded that pundits don’t believe that goodwill for another actress’s truly great performance is worth their weight? On the other hand, “To Leslie” brought in just $27,000 in its small October release from Momentum Pictures, so how does it do otherwise?
IndieWire spoke with insiders close to the campaign, and there’s less intrigue than you might think. Riseborough is represented by the moneyed and powerful CAA, so it’s hard to fathom that Hollywood would suddenly push a relatively obscure actress (full of Hollywood stars) without some sweetening the deal. Morris he told THR“We can’t afford an ad.”
As insiders explained to IndieWire, word of mouth for the SXSW premiere, “To Leslie,” took off back in October when Charlize Theron and Ed Norton came on board to help with screenings after director Michael Morris, whoever directed the episodes made some good calls. “Better Call Saul,” “13 Reasons Why,” “Shameless.” “Bloodline” and so on. (“To Leslie” debut film.)
As filmmakers and talent began to respond to the film, Riseborough and her team began a late campaign in earnest in December, aided by a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress. Then, an Instagram post by Paltrow, who has 8.2 million followers, has all of her celebrity friends piqued. Because as one insider pointed out, if there’s one thing this movie doesn’t have, it’s money.
Still, while it may be too late for Riseborough to kick one of the actresses on the Best Actress Oscar bubble, this campaign illuminated what more people should have known all along: Riseborough is a brilliant, bold actress who can do it. wear any hat from ‘Matilda’ in the musical to body robbery in Brandon Cronenberg’s ‘The Possessor’. He also delivers his best performance of any “Black Mirror” episode in 2017’s unforgiving Scandi-noir-inspired “Crocodile.”
Voting closes today, so that’s a bit much too little too late. Even if Riseborough isn’t nominated—and he’s at least in a better position to win the Film Independent Spirit Award in March—more people know who he is, which puts him that much closer to the next nomination.
And if he was nominated, maybe good things could happen in Hollywood.
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