This year’s Oscar nominations drew the usual cheers and jeers, as well as some gasps. Among the surprises was a Best Actress nod for Andrea Riseborough. It’s not that the acclaimed English actress didn’t deserve. It’s not even that few people saw To Leslie, the small indie drama for which she’s nominated. It’s that the recognition seemed to come not from the usual moneyed campaign routes but from a grass roots effort by high-profile Hollywood figures like Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow. AMPAS is now investigating campaign efforts in general, efforts that are being slammed by some other key figures.
One of them is Marc Maron, who, as per Entertainment Weekly, took AMPAS to the cleaners on Monday’s episode of his podcast WTF. “Apparently, the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences, or whatever the f*ck it is, has decided to investigate Andrea Riseborough’s grassroots campaign to get her the Oscar nomination,” Maron railed. “Because I guess it so threatens their system that they’re completely bought out by corporate interests in the form of studios.”
He went on:
“Millions of dollars [are] put into months of advertising campaigns, publicity, screenings by large corporate entertainment entities, and Andrea was championed by her peers through a grassroots campaign, which was pushed through by a few actors. The Academy is [like], ‘Well, we gotta take a look at this. This is not the way it’s supposed to work. Independent artists don’t deserve the attention of the Academy unless we see how it works exactly. So, we’re going to look into this.’”
The podcaster and actor called the grass roots campaign “earnest,” and called out the Academy working “at the behest of special interest and corporate interest and paranoia about how they look.” He concluded, “Who gives a f*ck?”
Maron wasn’t the only one who sprung to Riseborough’s defense. In a since-deleted post on her Instagram stories, Christina Ricci said it was “elitist” for AMPAS to single out campaign efforts not fueled by an avalanche of cash.
“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?”
When they announced that they were looking into this year’s campaign efforts, the Academy didn’t single out Riseborough, nor did they specify what rules, if any, had been broken. AMPAS has revoked nominations before. In 2014, they did just that to composer Bruce Broughton after he was caught having “improperly lobbied” members of the the music branch by contacting them over e-mail.
For her part, Riseborough has said she is “not entirely sure how the f*ck” she got nominated, but was beyond touched: “It has been special to feel so supported by the community — especially by actors — and to feel like the work has broken through that. It’s really not something I’ve ever experienced before.”
Meanwhile, you can watch the trailer for To Leslie below. The Oscars will air on March 12 at 8pm on ABC. Heck, maybe Riseborough will even win for this little movie that could.