Andrea Riseborough: Academy will not disqualify surprise Oscar nominee

Investigation discovered social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern, says Academy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said on Tuesday that it would not rescind Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination for best actress, after an investigation into whether a campaign on her behalf violated the organisation’s rules.

“The academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded,” Bill Kramer, the academy’s chief executive, said in a statement. “However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly.”

The academy declined to say who the responsible parties were.

Riseborough, a respected British actor, was a surprise nominee last week for her performance as a former lottery winner battling addiction in the little-seen drama To Leslie. The film earned just $27,000 (€24,800) at the box office during its initial release in October. Yet Riseborough became the talk of Hollywood when fellow actors began publicly praising her performance during the Oscar nominating season.


Cate Blanchett mentioned her when accepting a Critics Choice award. Kate Winslet, during a virtual Q&A session with Riseborough and the film’s director, called Riseborough’s work “the greatest female performance on-screen I have ever seen in my life”.

But the campaign soon drew criticism, with people questioning whether those lobbying on Riseborough’s behalf did so by calling members personally – an Oscars no-no – and hosting informal gatherings that didn’t comply with academy standards.

A social media post by veteran actor Frances Fisher raised eyebrows because it named other actors in Oscar contention, suggesting that their nominations were secure and that people should vote for Riseborough instead. On January 14th, Fisher wrote that voters should select Riseborough since “Viola, Michelle, Danielle & Cate are a lock for their outstanding work”. She was referring to Viola Davis, Michelle Williams, Danielle Deadwyler and Blanchett.

Davis and Deadwyler did not receive nominations. Mentioning competitors or their films directly while campaigning is forbidden.

In his statement Kramer said, the review by the academy made it “apparent that components of the regulations must be clarified to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive and unbiased campaigning”.

He said that any changes to the rules would be made after the Oscars telecast on March 12th.

“The academy strives to create an environment where votes are based solely on the artistic and technical merits of the eligible films and achievements,” he said. – This article originally appeared in the New York Times.