Oscars Review Policy After Andrea Riseborough Nomination


Kayla Katounas

The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards were announced on January 24, 2023. Unsurprisingly, the nominations were led by sci-fi hit Everything Everywhere All At Once, with 11 nominations, followed closely by The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front, each with nine nominations. But a much more unexpected nomination was Andrea Riseborough’s nod for Best Actress for her role in the low-budget indie To Leslie. Due to the questions this nomination raised, the Academy has announced a review of their campaigning policies.

To Leslie follows Riseborough’s Leslie as a single mother struggling to provide for her son when she wins the lottery. Though Riseborough received an Independent Spirit Award nomination, she was passed up at many of the other major ceremonies, like the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and SAG awards, shows where many of her fellow nominees were recognized leading up to the Oscars.

When the nominations were released, many were surprised to see Riseborough among the nominees, causing interest in her campaigning tactics. It was quickly discovered that several A-list celebrities, like Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Best Supporting Actress nominee Jamie Lee Curtis, and many more campaigned for Riseborough through social media and private screenings of the film. As to why such an extensive list of celebrities have chosen to campaign for this film, some credit it to favors from the Hollywood connections of To Leslie director Michael Morris, a known TV director who has worked on shows like Smash and Better Call Saul, and his wife, The West Wing star Mary McCormack.

Many believe that Viola Davis (The Woman King), who recently received EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) status, having won all four major awards, and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) were snubbed of Best Actress nominations at this year’s ceremony in favor of Riseborough, pointing out that both actresses are black women who did not appear to receive the level of campaigning that Riseborough, a white woman, received for a significantly lower budget film.

Some wondered if this extensive campaigning violated the Oscars rules about “lobbying.” In response to the questions being raised, the Academy announced that they “are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year’s nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated.” With the rise of social media, they acknowledged that “changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication.”

Since this initial announcement, Matthew Belloni, entertainment lawyer and former editor of The Hollywood Reporter, shared a statement from Academy CEO Bill Kramer to his Twitter. According to the statement, the investigation of the campaign “discovered social media and outreach tactics that caused concern,” and said that they are “addressing these concerns directly with the responsible parties.” The statement did not mention Riseborough or any other involved parties by name.

Riseborough will keep her Best Actress nomination, making her eligible to take home the coveted golden statuette at this year’s March 12 ceremony. She is nominated along with Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Cate Blanchett for Tár, Ana De Armas for Blonde, and Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans.