So how did Andrea Riseborough end up with her surprise Oscar nomination?

As always, there is a lot of unrest about this year’s Oscar nominations, specifically in the Best Actress category. Everyone knew that this year’s Best Actress race would be stacked, but most of the attention was on the fundamental two-woman race between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett. It was widely assumed by all of the Oscar prognosticators that Viola Davis would be nominated for The Woman King, Michelle Williams would likely get nominated for The Fabelmans, and that Till’s Danielle Deadwyler and maybe Margot Robbie (Babylon) would fight for the last slot. But when the noms came out yesterday, the shortlist didn’t include Margot, Danielle OR Viola. Instead, Ana de Armas got nominated for the Marilyn Monroe torture p-rn Blonde, and Andrea Riseborough slipped in with her performance in To Leslie.

To be clear, while I haven’t seen To Leslie, I’m sure Andrea gave a good performance. She’s a wonderful actress and a real shapeshifter, even moreso than Cate Blanchett. My biggest qualm is that Ana de Armas has no place on this list for Blonde. It was BAD. The film was awful. Still, the trade papers are much more focused on how Andrea ended up getting her nomination with zero money for an Oscar campaign and a purely word-of-mouth performance. Variety tried to track exactly what happened & when it started:

So how did such a small film end up breaking in, seemingly at the last minute? Awards pundits wrongly assumed that the celeb-backed campaign, while noteworthy, was a little too late to make a nomination happen. It came down to support from the film community, Riseborough said Tuesday.

“The idea that you need endless resources, I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Riseborough told Variety shortly after the Oscar noms were announced Tuesday morning. “The people who made sure of that is our community. It feels like the film community rallied around and made a noise.”

A campaign of sorts began in October when Howard Stern began touting the film on his SiriusXM show. “To Leslie” director Michael Morris and his wife, actor Mary McCormack, showed the movie to Stern in July during the annual wedding anniversary celebration they share with the Sterns. McCormack and Stern’s relationship goes back decades, to when she played the shock jock’s first wife Allison in his 1997 biopic “Private Parts.” According to sources, Stern asked to see “To Leslie” after Morris and McCormack told him about the movie and showed him the rave reviews in the trades — including Variety — that came out after the film premiered at South By Southwest in March 2022.

Stern then began touting “To Leslie,” which was shot in just 19 days in Los Angeles during the height of the COVID pandemic, on his show to coincide with film’s release in the fall. “It genuinely caught everyone by surprise,” a source tells me.

A screening hosted by Charlize Theron at CAA followed. After Riseborough nabbed a Spirit Award nomination, McCormack got to work with help from publicity powerhouses Shelter PR and Narrative PR. McCormack sent an email to friends asking them to publicly support the movie and Riseborough’s performance, even including images and suggested hashtags and accounts to tag in social media posts. “If you’re willing to post every day between now and Jan 17th [the last day of Oscar nomination voting], that would be amazing!” she wrote in one email obtained by Variety. “But anything is helpful, so please do whatever makes you comfortable. And what’s more comfortable than posting about a movie every day!”

More celebrity support started to flood awards season. Among those who posted praise on social media were Sally Field, Liam Neeson, Jane Fonda, Laura Dern, Catherine Keener, Geena Davis and Mira Sorvino. More screenings of “To Leslie” were hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, Courteney Cox and Edward Norton. Minnie Driver is set to host a screening tomorrow night in Los Angeles. Kate Winslet and Amy Adams moderated virtual Q&As with Riseborough. Cate Blanchett was so moved by Riseborough’s performance that she gave her a shoutout during her acceptance speech at the Critics’ Choice Awards.

[From Variety]

Mary McCormack has worked with a lot of powerful people within Hollywood, and it sounds like Mary used the tools of her position and convinced many of her actress friends to give the film a chance. It also helps that Andrea is well-liked and respected in the industry too – she’s more of a character actress, and decades of work paid off when her peers were like: yes, an Oscar nomination for you. What I’m really getting is that besides Howard Stern, this effort was very much driven by women in the industry too. And that’s amazing. But Viola still should have been nominated in Ana de Armas’s place.

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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50 Responses to “So how did Andrea Riseborough end up with her surprise Oscar nomination?”

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  1. M says:

    Ana was nominated simply for the fact that she played Marilyn. Hollywood loves to exploit her, even in death.

  2. blue says:

    Imo, the one who “stole” a nom is Michelle Williams.

    • Jais says:

      I like Michelle Williams a lot but believe that both her and Ana should not have been nominated, making way for Danielle and Viola.

    • Case says:

      Yup, this is the right take. Michelle wasn’t nominated for nearly as many precursors as the other women (minus Andrea obviously) and she really is not the lead in The Fabelmans. She should’ve been in the supporting actress category.

      • Twin Falls says:

        Ana was nominated by SAG, BAFTA and the GGs so yeah her spot on the Oscar list shouldn’t be a surprise. Michelle Williams on the other hand. That’s just the power of Spielberg in Hollywood. And look she said from the beginning she was going for best actress with it and she got the nom. She won’t win and will it turn voters off next time when she doesn’t have Spielberg backing her? We’ll see.

  3. Sierra says:

    White women uses their power to help other whites women only, what a surprise.

    I don’t see these CAA white women actually do this for women of colour.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Apparently an actress who was campaigning for Andrea on Instagram said Danielle, Michelle and Viola were locks for nominations and that people should consider voting for Andrea to get one.

  4. Jenns says:

    I saw the movie this weekend and found it very meh. And the standout performer for me was Marc Maron. Andrea Riseborough was fine, and I like her as an actress, but the people acting like this was the greatest performance of all time must not watch other movies. Because I’ve seen several different version of this acting performance, and most of them came from Farrah Fawcett in 80s TV movies of the week(no snark on Farrah. Those movies ruled).

    I understand this is how the process goes for nominations, but the idea that this was some grassroots campaign really doesn’t stick with me. Because what really happened was a white woman centered herself and got all of her A-list powerful white friends to back her and that’s how she got this nomination. And that kind of support is something that women of color in Hollywood don’t have.

    • R says:

      Yep. Agreed. Danielle Deadwyler AND Viola Davis should have gotten that nom. Im rooting for Michelle Yeoh, but there is no way the Academy is going to choose Yeoh over Blanchett. I’m a bit annoyed with Blanchett, who’s all, like, ‘awards don’t mean much, we’re all winners, but then yet here she is, campaigning for a third Oscars. If she really cared about giving underrated actresses a shot, she should have sat this race out. There were so many female BIPOC actresses given their all this year, but I digress. Im just going to go by director Bong Jong Ho’s words: Oscars shouldn’t be treated as the pinnacle of all accolades, and you just have to treat it as all local awards lol.

    • Kirsten says:

      Oh, Marc Maron is in this? I love him. I didn’t have a ton of interest in this before, but now will definitely give it a go.

    • Imara219 says:

      👏🏽 👏🏽👏🏽 Exactly! People like to say that it was a long shot or Viola because there was no money behind a big campaign, yet all it took for this white actress was another white actress with power in the industry to rally her friends and contacts and look. That is, in essence, the issue. Black people and minorities will always lag in these incidences because white supremacy, even passive, means protecting and helping other white people over others.

    • honeychild says:

      I just watched the trailer. And yes, AR’s performance gives Farrah Fawcett movie of the week, and I’ll add, Jodie Foster in “The Accused” vibes. I am sure her performance is just as great as Farrah’s and Jodie’s but I read the comment by one of the actresses who championed her nom that makes it like she redefined the art of acting. That seems a bit over the top. But again, I have only seen the trailer.

    • Tanguerita says:

      Absolutely. Your run-of-the-mill misery porn with a very unconvincing redemption arc. She is fine in it, but no match to Deadwyler ( i haven’t seen “The woman king” yet, but yes, probably no match to Davis either). I still think that she is more deserving of a nomination than williams and de armas, but the way she got it makes my skin crawl.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Danielle Deadwyler and Viola Davis should have been nominated over Michelle Williams and Ana de Arnas.

    • Jais says:

      Just said the same upthread before reading your comment! Agree with this 💯

    • dj says:

      Agreed. Viola Davis was definitely robbed. She was so good in The Woman King. It was the best movie I have seen at the theater this year. It had an A on Rotten Tomatoes. Oscars never learn #OscarssoWhite again. I really am grossed out how the powerful people in Hollywood DECIDED to get AR nominated on this film.

  6. Millennial says:

    The only film I’ve seen so far is Everything, Everywhere, and Michelle Yeoh was brilliant having to play essentially multiple characters. I hope she wins. Michelle Williams, at this point, is overdue for a win, but everyone says she’s not really the lead in this film. I hope she wins next time. Cate has won enough times. Ana shouldn’t even be nominated. That said, Hollywood loves to reward women who “go ugly,” but I still don’t think Andrea has a chance.

  7. Peanut Butter says:

    No one associated with Blonde should be rewarded. At all.

    • Juliette says:

      Totally agree. That movie was garbage and it irritates me that Ana got nominated over others that were for more deserving. That movie should go on the trash heap of history. Hated it and was PO’d I had wasted my time watching it tbh.

  8. JustBitchy says:

    Nice to be white. 😩

  9. Concern Fae says:

    These awards have always been a crapshoot and something of a joke.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      @ Concern Fae, as soon as the award nominees were announced it proved to me once again that WOC, along with other minorities are simply an afterthought. No women directors nominated? No WOC for best actress? The Oscars are driven by “who you are” and the usual “who you know” that supplied this years award nominees.

  10. Bex says:

    Another example of how “solidarity” is only for white women.

    • Kebbie says:

      What’s funny is this might actually help the one woman of color in the category. There will be people still on the Riseborough train and that’s likely going to siphon votes from Blanchett. People who feel like Danielle and Viola were shortchanged or didn’t like white Hollywood actresses putting their thumb on the scale for Riseborough will likely go Yeoh.

  11. Chaine says:

    Ok I try to be openminded so I just watched the To Leslie trailer and geez it looks like an incredibly depressing movie with a lot of fake country accents. Typical Hollywood elite “Let’s watch some poors eat their young.” Hard pass.

  12. Loretta says:

    I have lost respect for everyone involved in this Andrea Riseborough farce

    • Kebbie says:

      I was hoping they’d show a little shame when they saw it didn’t knock out a white actress, it knocked out a woman of color. Especially the people who claimed Danielle and Viola were “locks.” If you give Hollywood enough white people to vote for, they will.

  13. Jen says:

    The only Best Actress nominated performances I’ve seen so far are Michelle Yeoh and Ana de armas but I’m shamelessly rooting for Yeoh regardless.
    As for this Oscar campaign, good for McCormack. What a hustler! Her husband is lucky to have her. But it also reinforces the truth that the Oscars don’t necessarily celebrate the best performances. It’s the best performances promoted with the most financial resources or promoted by very industrious people who leverage their connections well (like McCormack).
    I’m glad it worked out for Riseborough but it may be hard to replicate.

    BTW didn’t McCormack’s husband cheat on her years ago by Katherine McPhee?

    • Lens says:

      Haha yeah that was my comment yesterday. Gossip gold that was. But they patched it back together so good for them but I will never look at Katherine McPhee foster the same way. I follow Mary mcC on insta so I wasn’t surprised as much as for Ana despite all the precursors. Usually a bad (or even mediocre) film hurts a newish to awards actress (see jlo and hustlers) and only is discounted when the actress is seen as ‘due’ like when Julianne Moore won for a forgettable film. I’d be interested if someone did a deep dive into Ana’s campaign

  14. Blanca says:

    Ana de Armas stole nbody’s nomination. She has been nominated for nearly all of the Oscars precursors (including the SAG and BAFTA) and made history as the first Cuban to be nominated for an Oscar.

    • SandrineChamb says:

      Ana is a good actress but also a hustler..I am fan of her but I would have preferred that she was nominated for at least a decent movie not this garbage and her misogynistic director who thinks Marylin was a whore..Good for her for making history and I wish her a lot of success

      • CourtneyB says:

        The Whale is at 65% or so but Fraser gave a great performance. It’s possible in a mediocre or bad film. But people are only focusing on Ana.

    • Frippery says:

      Respectfully, Andy Garcia was the first Cuban to be nominated for an Oscar for acting.

      Ernesto Lecuona y Casado was the first Cuban to be nominated for an Oscar, for best song, in the 40’s

      • Fernanda says:

        You’re right but she’s the first Cuban woman to be nominated in Best Actress. It’s historic and being a Latina myself I’m very proud of her

    • michyk says:

      @blanca-this, thank you. everyone clutching their pearls over ana getting nominated just hasn’t been paying attention. regardless of what you think of her actual performance, her trajectory towards the oscars is very traditional (as far as other awards, nominations and accolades leading the way). and i firmly believe you can have a good or even great performance in otherwise terrible films (much like brendan fraser’s in the extremely awful whale).

      as others have said, michelle williams is the one who doesn’t belong here, if for no other reason than her role was definitely supporting versus lead.

      i haven’t seen to leslie, it’s just not my thing, but i have heard that it’s very good, but very much in the ‘white woman without makeup’ category of drama.

      • CourtneyB says:

        Ironically that’s how viola got her Oscar. She committed some category fraud for Fences. She went into Supporting and likely ‘took’ Michelle William’s Oscar. (Maybe Naomi Harris for moonlight, my pick.) Viola could’ve won in lead against Emma stone imo.

  15. Emmi says:

    It’s almost as if there are only three types of performances that can get you a nomination. The audience “favorite” (Blanchett, Winslet, Williams, Adams etc.) who gets nominated all the time. The performance in “DEPRESSION – The Movie” wherein the actress better look like a poodle in a thunderstorm. And then there’s the pretty ingénue. That last one is almost funny at this point.

    I guess Danielle just looked too good playing someone going through harrowing times.

    • Eating Popcorn says:

      You left out the Holocaust film. The TV show Extras did a very funny skit about that several years ago which featured Kate Winslet. Even more funnily, in the art imitates art category, several years later, Kate Winslet in The Reader.

  16. Elon's Sink says:

    I’ve only seen Andrea in Oblivion with Tom Cruise and she was good in that movie.

    Viola and Danielle were absolutely robbed. I hope Michelle Yeoh wins.

  17. CC says:

    Having seen both “Till” and “The Woman King,” if Riseborough wasn’t nominated but the rest of the nominees had to stay the same, I’d pick Deadwyler over Davis.
    But I want Yeoh to win.

  18. Mee says:

    I really like Andrea, she’s one of the most alive and committed on screen actresses the last few years. From Death of Stalin to Louis Wain….just so enigmatic and shape shifting. That said, the F was this last minute campaign. All the white women rallied behind her. Who was rallying behind Danielle??? Pushing her name out. A friend is the industry, there are tons of free screenings held from October -Dec of all these movies. It used to be ‘best performance’ actually got nominated. Not who’s got powerful influence. Well Weinstein killed that.

  19. CourtneyB says:

    AR needed the push because her distributor didn’t submit the film to the required guilds. Thus she wasn’t eligible for any of the preceding awards. So she seemingly came out of nowhere. The full article is worth a read.