The Oscars keep controversial nomination after investigation

photo courtesy of google commons

photo courtesy of google commons

After the Oscar nominations came out on January 24, film fans found themselves in shock when Andrea Riseborough was nominated for Best Actress without any prior nominations this award season.

In the beginning of January, A-list actors suddenly started sharing praise for Riseborough’s performance in the indie film “To Leslie”. Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet called Riseborough’s performance “the greatest female performance on-screen I have ever seen in my life” on a Q&A she moderated with the director, Michael Morris. Other actors like Edward Norton, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston also offered their praise.

The Academy put out a statement after the surprise from Riseborough’s nomination saying they would investigate the nomination process. Although the Academy didn’t directly mention Riseborough in their statement, many guess that they looked at her campaigning due to the public’s reaction. 

Senior Ella Cimperman was surprised to see Riseborough’s name when she casually looked up the nomination list.

“All the other actors I was somewhat familiar with, but I had never heard of her or her movie. Since then, I’ve heard people really liked her performance, but I was definitely surprised to see someone I’d never heard of before nominated,” Cimperman shared.

What made Riseborough’s nomination stand out amongst the other nominees was that there was no big studio to push her into the spotlight. “To Leslie” only produced $27,322 at the box office. Those who have watched the film say her performance was stellar which allowed her to get the nomination. However, some say that the director and his wife, Mary McCormack, created a grassroots campaign by encouraging their famous friends to positively review the film.

Although the word-of-mouth approach does not violate the Academy’s rules, some fans theorize that the nomination could violate the Academy’s rule against lobbying. For example, potential nominees are not allowed to directly contact the Academy to beg for a nomination and are not allowed to downplay other actors’ performances. However, after the investigation, the Academy found that none of the nominations this year went against their regulations.

Senior Nathan Hill loves watching movies but hasn’t had the chance to watch “To Leslie” yet. However, the nomination took him by surprise along with the rest of the film community.

“I have been reading stuff about it and I don’t directly think that any rules were broken intentionally. But I definitely do think that it sort of shows how campaigning and technology and social media has definitely changed it from what the norm has been, and I think we could maybe see what it will end up being,” Hill explained. “But I honestly think that the way she was able to get her nomination is pretty inspiring. I think it shows that change is possible, but I think it can also show that this sort of support, the fact that it hasn’t been done before for other performances, is pretty telling.”

While a lot of fans love Riseborough’s performance and think she deserves the nomination, others argue that her grassroots campaign took possible nominations away from Viola Davis for “The Woman King” or Danielle Deadwyler for “Till”. Davis was nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG (Screen Actors Guild), and a BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Arts) while Deadwyler was nominated for a Critics Choice and a BAFTA. These awards usually predict who gets nominated at the Oscars, and Riseborough was nominated for none of the predicting awards.

“When it comes to best actress, I think that Mia Goth for “Pearl” could have been nominated and that would have been deserving. I also do think that both Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler very well could and should have gotten nominations because they have been doing really well throughout the award season,” Hill added.

Since Halle Berry’s historic win in 2001, the Oscars have only nominated six black women for Best Actress. Deadwyler or Davis were expected to add to the list of nominations this year, however, Berry remains the only black woman to win this award in the Academy’s 95-year-old history. 

With these new changes in campaigning, film fans wonder if Riseborough’s nomination could set a precedent for future nominees.

“I think it’s very interesting to see when actors do all this press and interviews, which is sort of the more traditional way,” Hill said. “But I think getting to see other actors’ genuine reactions to performances and movies and that being publicized is also really valuable.”