After the surprise nomination of Andrea Riseborough for her role in the indie film To Leslie, the Academy has decided to conduct a review of all nominees’ campaign tactics.

Riseborough, whose performance was unanimously lauded, scored the nomination for best actress over other, far more high-profile names such as Viola Davis for The Woman King and Danielle Deadwyler for Till, causing some speculation about the lobbying efforts by this year’s nominees. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did not call out To Leslie by name when it announced Friday that it would be conducting a review to ensure campaigning was “conducted in a fair and ethical manner.”


“We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures, and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances,” the Academy’s statement said.

The announcement was met with backlash from Riseborough’s costar, Marc Maron.

“Apparently, the Academy of Motion Picture Science, or whatever the f—k it is, has decided to investigate Andrea Riseborough’s grassroots campaign to get her the Oscar nomination,” Maron said on his podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. “Because I guess it so threatens their system that they’re completely bought out by corporate interests in the form of studios.”

He continued, “Millions of dollars [are] put into months and months of advertising campaigns, publicity, screenings by large corporate entertainment entities and Andrea was championed by her peers through a grassroots campaign that was pushed through by a few actors… Nothing is going to happen because of [an investigation]. It was in earnest, the campaign, and it is not undeserving. But I’m glad the Academy – at the behest of special interest and corporate interest and paranoia about how they look – are doing an investigation.”

The Academy has strict regulations about lobbying, including limits on the number of emails that can be sent to Academy members, what kind of references or links can be distributed to members, how mail to members must be formatted and explicit restrictions of the content of mail and emails. Even so, the Academy has long been shrouded in accusations that its voting members are swayed more by financial interests than films’ merits. Riseborough herself said she was surprised by the nomination of the low-budget film, telling Deadline she was “not entirely sure how the f—k this happened.”

“Every year, for some reason, there are spotlights shining brighter in some places than in others, and maybe it is just all to do with money, though I try not to be cynical in that way,” she said. “It has been special to feel so supported by the community – especially by actors – and to feel like the work has broken through that.”

Hollywood A-listers have rallied behind Riseborough since the Academy’s announcement, insisting the grassroots campaign was legitimate and that the nomination is deserved despite not having the corporate backing of studios like Universal (The Fablemans, Tár) or Netflix (Blonde). Actress Christina Ricci said in an Instagram comment that if Riseborough’s nomination is rescinded, “shame on them.”

“Seems hilarious that the ‘surprise nomination’ (meaning tons of money wasn’t spent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being met with an investigation,” Ricci wrote. “So it’s only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me.”

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