Watch: Trailer for Andrea Riseborough’s drama About Leslie
In March 2022, the South by Southwest competition hosted the premiere of To Leslie, a brand new movie starring beloved British display actor Andrea Riseborough. The drama obtained robust evaluations, with Riseborough receiving specific reward for her efficiency as an alcoholic Texas girl making an attempt to fix her relationship along with her household after squandering her lottery winnings on medication and alcohol.
The movie obtained a restricted theatrical launch within the States in October, adopted by its UK premiere in November. It is a small film and nobody seen. Based on Field Workplace Mojo, it has grossed simply over $27,000 (£22,000) worldwide. Avatar: The Final Airbender did about 5,000 instances that determine within the US alone in its opening weekend.
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However persons are already noticing To Leslie. Seemingly out of nowhere, Riseborough made it to the Oscars’ finest actress shortlist. Magical, hit performances like Daniel Deadweiler in Until, Margot Robbie in Babylon and Viola Davis in The King Lady did not make the chart, however Riseborough did.
So how did it occur, and will Riseborough truly win his first Oscar for the movie?
An outsider’s story
It isn’t completely truthful to say that To Leslie got here out of nowhere. It was one of the crucial revered indie releases of 2022 and has a 98% approval score amongst critics on Rotten Tomatoes. That is a greater essential hit price than any of the ten Finest Image nominees — albeit from a a lot smaller variety of evaluations.
Riseborough has additionally obtained some recognition from awards our bodies. She was nominated in November for an Unbiased Spirit Award for Finest Efficiency by a Main Function, and the Nationwide Board of Assessment chosen To Leslie as one among its 10 finest unbiased releases of the 12 months. The movie and Riseborough additionally gained a number of competition awards, together with on UK shores on the Raindance Movie Pageant, the place To Leslie was acknowledged as Finest Actress and Movie of the Pageant.
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However it’s all fairly quiet by way of rewards. Riseborough acquired nothing when nominations got here in from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs or Display screen Actors Guild Awards. Even among the many myriad critics’ associations and smaller predecessor awards organizations, solely the Chicago Movie Critics Affiliation nominated Riseborough for Finest Actress.
So for that to translate to the Oscars, one thing needed to occur someplace.
An uncommon marketing campaign
The Oscar marketing campaign is usually seen as a black arts enterprise. Earlier than he went to jail for his horrifying vary of intercourse crimes, Harvey Weinstein was thought of the grasp of that awards season underbelly. He might take a popular however unloved movie — Shakespeare in Love, for instance — and switch it right into a Finest Image winner by aggressively campaigning and tarnishing the competitors if mandatory.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t seem that there’s a Weinstein-like determine behind To Leslie. Cash is tight, with director Michael Morris telling The Hollywood Reporter that the movie cannot even afford an promoting marketing campaign. He added: “We dwell or die by individuals’s reactions to the movie. We have been so underneath the radar and our solely technique was to get individuals to see the movie.”
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That does not sound like sufficient till you see the checklist of names of people that not solely noticed the movie, however selected to publicly help it. To call a number of: Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Norton, Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Howard Stern, Alan Cumming, Amy Adams, Kate Winslet and Minnie Driver.
Paltrow – a pal of director Morris – was amongst those that enthusiastically shared their enjoyment of the movie, writing on Instagram that “Andrea ought to win each award there may be and all those that have not been invented but.”
So evidently Riseborough’s awards technique ended up utilizing the best software within the ebook for a enterprise like Hollywood – “it is not what you realize, it is who you realize”.
Pals in excessive locations
She’s a popular determine who by no means fairly made the awards season sensation it arguably deserves, and Morris — a function movie debutant however a TV veteran of Higher Name Saul and 13 Causes Why — additionally has his justifiable share of well-known associates. Lots of them appeared comfortable to take only a few minutes to publish a few film they preferred starring a colleague they’ve quite a lot of respect for.
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However it’s not as wholesome because it sounds. An eagle-eyed redditor on the /r/OscarRace web page famous earlier this month that lots of the celeb tweets praising the movie used very comparable textual content, together with the now-common phrase “a small film with an enormous coronary heart.”
We’re all aware of this system from the barrage of near-identical tweets from Conservative MPs when responding to a authorities scandal, presumably after being despatched a pattern textual content in a WhatsApp group someplace.
So, in abstract, the nomination for To Leslie in all probability took place as a mix of many issues – intelligent use of Hollywood connections, a bunch WhatsApp marketing campaign and a real want to help an outsider star for his or her courageous work.
Playwright Jeremy O. Harris tweeted that Riseborough supervisor Jason Weinberg deserves a lot of the credit score, saying: “This man campaigned for an Oscar in a bunch chat for a buyer he’d seen tormenting her for years with little or no recognition who placed on a daring efficiency in a small image and this works. That must be appeared into.”
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Some expressed concern concerning the optics of a white actor utilizing his predominantly white circle of associates to safe a nomination over black performers just like the aforementioned Deadwyler and Davis. Whereas this will likely appear to be a harsh criticism — Riseborough did not “sit down” any greater than Michelle Williams or Ana de Armas, for instance — it is definitely truthful to ask whether or not individuals of colour within the trade can invoke the identical groundswell of goodwill to make waves. of voting on the final minute.
No matter occurred, Riseborough is now a real Oscar contender—albeit a really secondary one to the primary race between Cate Blanchett’s gutsy work in Tár and Michelle Yeoh’s gonzo motion flip in All the pieces In every single place All at As soon as —and Leslie is being approached by many extra eyes than have been there earlier than.
The movie is on the market to stream within the UK through varied digital platforms.
Even these essential of the dynamic that led to Riseborough’s nomination have only a few damaging phrases for the star, who has labored extraordinarily exhausting all through her profession.
Final 12 months alone, she appeared in 5 extremely numerous movies, together with Amsterdam and Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical, in addition to the significantly extra severe About Leslie.
Typically Hollywood is simply compelled to get behind one thing like this – a small film with an enormous coronary heart.
Watch: Andrea Riseborough responds to Oscar nomination