to Leslie is an independent film from 2022, shot on a small budget in 19 days and directed by director Michael Morris, who had never made cinema before. It tells of a woman who, after wasting all her lottery money, finds herself living on the streets and dealing with her alcoholism. The protagonist plays Andrea Riseborough, a British actress who has had some supporting roles in hit movies like BirdmanAnd nocturnal animalsAnd When Stalin dies, another one is made and music Matilda, recently released. However, Riseborough’s name was largely unknown to the general public, before it was included among last week’s names Oscar nominees Best actress this year.
The news brought a lot of surprise because it is rare for movie actors and actresses with small distribution houses and limited promotional budgets to achieve this result. Promotional campaign for to Leslie However, she had already attracted the attention of many commentators in the weeks leading up to the launch of the nominations, for her own knowledge-based, lobbying, and seemingly no-cost strategy.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that awards the Oscars, said on Friday it had launched an investigation into this year’s nominations to ensure no promotions broke the rules. And even if he didn’t say so, many specialist newspapers speculated that the investigation was about Riseborough’s nomination.
The Academy is an association of about 10,000 members belonging to the film industry: actors, directors, screenwriters, editors, producers, etc. At the nomination stage, most of the members (about 9,500) vote for the nominees in their respective aptitude category and they all vote for the best film. This applies to most categories, including the Best Actress category where the voter turnout is about 1,300. This year the nominations were voted on between January 12th and 17th and the nominees It was announced on the 24th.
There are hundreds of films on the Oscars list, so to win one or more nominations each year, distribution companies hire consultants, stage events and spend budgets that can run into the tens of millions of dollars. The goal is to create a roadshow that will bring the audience but above all the experts and the most influential people in the Hollywood industry to see and remember the film: all without an explicit request for votes, because Academy rules do not allow it. In general, the Academy’s regulation on what can and cannot be done during a promotion is very strict, and anyone who violates it can be disqualified from nominations.
The initial budget for to Leslie It was less than a million dollars and in an interview with Hollywood Reporter Director Michael Morris He said You cannot bear any ads. To make a comparison with the films of the other nominees, the budget blond (protagonist Ana de Armas) was 22 million, from Everything everywhere at once (Protagonist Michelle Yeoh) more than 14 million of tar (starring Cate Blanchett) 35 million and Fablemans (with Michelle Williams) 40 million. Since it hit theaters in October, on top of that, it’s gross to Leslie It was very low, just over $27,000: a no Los Angeles Journal He knew “About a tenth of the amount that is usually spent only on promoting and advertising the film.”
Until a few weeks before the vote, for to Leslie There was very little talk outside of the press specializing in independent productions. But suddenly, many actresses, actors and other celebrities began to express themselves very positively about the film on various occasions and on different channels, especially social networks, in the process of It seemed to many that it was agreed. The first to speak well about the film, in October, was American radio host Howard Stern on his show. Stern and his wife had been close friends with Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack, for years.
It has also been rebuilt variety, McCormack could have played a major role in promoting the film, among other things by emailing several famous friends asking them to publicly support Riseborough’s candidacy, and also advising them on what tags and which hashtags to use on social networks. In an email, he would write: “If you were willing to post daily between now and January 17th [l’ultimo giorno del voto per la nomination all’Oscar, ndr], it will be awesome! “.
On January 15, in her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress at the Critics’ Choice Awards, Cate Blanchett cited Andrea Riseborough’s performance as first in a list of “extraordinary performances by not just women in this room” (Riseborough was not among the nominees). Actress Frances Fisher was a big supporter of Riseborough’s candidacy: The first of a series Among the posts on Instagram dedicated to the film begin with “Academy Voters for Actors Categories! You must watch this movie before voting! Another to contribute to the promotion was Gwyneth Paltrow, who during the voting phase hosted a screening of the film and posted a photo on Instagram with director Riseborough and Demi Moore commenting: «Andrea must win every award out there and also all those yet to be invented.
Kate Winslet called Riseborough’s performance one of the best she had ever seen. But not only this: to Leslie Jennifer Aniston, Edward Norton, Jane Fonda, Amy Adams, Charlize Theron, Mia Farrow, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore and others have positively expressed themselves. In the environment, the mobilization looked very straightforward and forced to become a meme.
According to some newspapers, this operation could have been particularly successful thanks to the fact that Morris has a long career as a television director (he has shot episodes of very popular series such as I’d rather call Saul, Shameless, 13 Reasons Why), and that Andrea Riseborough is behind the very influential talent agency, CAA. Second varietyTwo public relations firms, Narrative PR and Shelter PR, and at least one event organizer, Colleen Camp, have been involved in the promotion in light of the Oscars: «Who pays those bills? Momentum Pictures [la casa di distribuzione di To Leslie, ndr]? Riseborough? any third party? Curious people want to know.”
Since the nominations emerged, and even before the Academy announced the start of the investigation, discussions in the environment began with the assumption that the promotional campaign for to Leslie You didn’t follow the rules. Indeed, there’s nothing stopping people who enjoyed the movie from recommending it to Academy voters, but it’s true that no one has ever campaigned so aggressively “knowledge-based” in these ways before.
We usually work to get people talking about the movie in more indirect ways, promoting events and investing in the types of advertising that are more traditional but also considered more effective. A person who works for a public relations firm in Hollywood said at Interview Riseborough’s candidacy “is not natural. It’s a miracle. If not, many of us would not have a job.”
Shortly after announcing the Academy’s investigation, the account made a post on Instagram to Leslie , with some speculating that the reason was his failure to comply with the rule of no comparisons with other potential candidates. The post is actually resumed by a review written by Richard Roeper on Chicago Sun Times To which she says: ‘As much as I admire Blanchett’s work in tarMy favorite female performer this year was Andrea Riseborough, the chameleon.” However, it is not clear if Riseborough can be held responsible for a post that includes a sentence written by someone else.
The Academy announced that the reason it launched the investigation was to “make sure no guidelines were breached” but also “to inform us if changes to the guidelines need to be made in this new age of social media and digital communication”. Since the nominations were released, several reports have arrived about the campaign for to Lesliebut secondly variety There is no official fee, and the Academy is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue.
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