If there’s one thing indie “To Leslie” doesn’t have, it’s money, a campaign insider told IndieWire. So why are celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Kate Winslet suddenly supporting it?
In the Six Degrees of Separation between Gwyneth Paltrow and Andrea Riseborough, the dotted line is not so clear. So what the hell is going on with the Best Actress Oscar campaign for Riseborough’s indie?To Lesley‘, and why are celebrities from Paltrow to Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Courteney Cox, Demi Moore, Mia Farrow, Joe Mantegna, Mira Sorvino, Charlize Theron, Sarah Paulson, Edward Norton, Jennifer Aniston, and Jane Fonda suddenly supporting it?
During a recent Q&A with Riseborough that Winslet herself moderated, the fellow actress called Riseborough’s turn in the movie directed by Michael Morris “one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in my life.” (Not one to be left behind, Amy Adams is on deck to moderate her own Q&A later today.)
Paltrow called the film a “masterpiece” and said she was “bewildered” by Riseborough, who she says deserves to win “every prize there is and all prizes not yet invented.” While onstage accepting her Critics Choice Award win for “TÁR” on Sunday, Blanchett cited Riseborough’s performance as a West Texas alcoholic single mom seeking redemption after squandering her lottery winnings as one of the best overlooked acting parts of this year.
Memes appeared over the weekend — Baby Annette wins Riseborough for Best Actress! Barack Obama has revised its Best Movies of the Year list to include “To Leslie”! – that smacked of a conspiracy. Remember when Melissa Leo went rogue in 2011 with the FYC ad campaign “The Fighter,” filling the pages of print trade publications with a glamor photo that invited voters to “Consider…”? Or when Sally Kirkland made her way to a Best Actress nomination for ‘Anna’ in 1987? Or when Mark Rylance won Best Supporting Actor for ‘Bridge of Spies’ in 2016, despite not campaigning at all? None of them were completely out of left field — they were all in the talk in some way, even if they were fifth or tenth — but “To Leslie” sets an unusual precedent.
On the one hand, is Hollywood really so cynical and jaded that pundits can’t believe that goodwill for a truly great performance by one actress over the others would earn their weight? And then again, “To Leslie” only grossed $27,000 in a small Momentum Pictures release in October, so how else does this happen?
IndieWire spoke to insiders close to the campaign, and there’s less intrigue to untangle here than you might think. Riseborough is represented by the affluent and powerful CAA, so it’s hard to accept that Hollywood would suddenly be calling for a relatively (in Hollywood star-studded terms) obscure actress without some sweetness of the deal. Morris told THR“We can’t afford an advertisement.”
As insiders explained to IndieWire, word of mouth started swirling for SXSW premiere “To Leslie” in October, when Charlize Theron and Ed Norton came on board to help with screenings after a few well-placed phone calls from filmmaker Michael Morris, who directed episodes. from ‘Better Call Saul’, ’13 Reasons Why’, ‘Shameless’. “Bloodline” and more. (“To Leslie” is his feature film debut.)
As filmmakers and talent began to respond to the film, Riseborough and her team began a new campaign in earnest in December, buoyed by her Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress. Then, it was Paltrow’s Instagram post, who has 8.2 million followers, that got all of her celebrity friends interested. Because, as one insider pointed out, if there’s one thing this movie doesn’t have, it’s money.
While it may be too late for Riseborough to kick out one of the actresses currently in the Best Actress Oscar bubble, this campaign has at least made it clear what more people should have known all along: Riseborough is a brilliant, daring actress. who can wear any hat from “Matilda” the musical to body hijacking in Brandon Cronenberg’s “Possessor.” She also gives the best performance in every episode of “Black Mirror,” 2017’s brutal Scandi-noir-inspired “Crocodile.”
Voting closes today, so it’s a bit too few too late. Even if Riseborough doesn’t get the nomination – and she’s in a better position to win the Film Independent Spirit Award in March anyway – more people know who she is, putting her much closer to a nomination next time around.
And if she gets nominated, maybe good things can happen in Hollywood.