Andrea Riseborough: Oscar nomination to be reviewed by Academy

LOS ANGELENCE      -     A surprise Oscar nomination scored by British actress Andrea Riseborough has prompted debate in Hollywood. But did the apparently grassroots campaign which championed her break any rules? Many awards watchers were stunned when Riseborough was nominated for best actress last week for her performance in To Leslie. Not because she was undeserving (quite the opposite), but because of how unusual the nod was for someone who had practically no previous awards season momentum. A-listers including Gwyneth Paltrow, Edward Norton and Courteney Cox were among those who had tried to drum up support in the dying days of Oscar voting for Riseborough, who plays an alcoholic mother who squanders her lottery winnings in the critically praised but little-known film. Despite the stars’ efforts ultimately being successful, questions have been raised about how Riseborough’s nomination was achieved, and whether some of those campaigning for her broke any rules.

The Academy Board of Governors has indicated the issue will be part of the agenda at their next meeting today (Tuesday, 31 January), after the awards body was reportedly inundated with calls and e-mails regarding the actress’s inclusion. In a statement on Friday, the Academy said their goal was to ensure the awards competition is “conducted in a fair and ethical manner”.

The body said it wanted to confirm that “no guidelines were violated” and examine “whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication”. The issue of whether Academy rules were broken by some of those advocating for Riseborough comes down to a few specific posts which not only championed her, but also made reference to her competitors - something which is strictly forbidden.

The Academy’s official rules state that any forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film which “attempt to cast a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement” will not be tolerated. “In particular,” they add, “any tactic that singles out ‘the competition’ by name or title is expressly forbidden”, and punishable by a one-year suspension of membership for first-time offenders. One since-deleted Instagram post which has particularly been put in the spotlight was published by the official To Leslie account.

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