After a growing backlash surrounding the viral grassroots organizing that earned "To Leslie" star Andrea Riseborough a surprise Best Actress nomination, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is officially reviewing the Oscar campaigns for this year's nominees.
Although it has appeared as if the campaign team behind the Momentum Pictures release, which stars the British actress as a strung-out lottery winner trying to rebuild her life, did not violate any campaign guidelines themselves, some of the methods they used, such as directly emailing Academy members suggesting they help lobby for the film, are disregarded.
Riseborough's entry into the category comes at the cost of two Black actors from well-known Black women's films being shut out of the Oscar race: Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Danielle Deadwyler (“Till”). Both actresses and their films have run more traditional Oscar campaigns in recent months.
"We are committed to ensuring that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner," the Academy said in a statement, expressing its ongoing diversity efforts following the #OscarsSoWhite scandal that plagued its acting nominations in 2015 and 2016.
In a statement issued by Puck News, alluding to the nature of how specific parties evangelized for "To Leslie" via platforms like Instagram, the Academy stated, "We are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year's nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated, and to inform us whether changes may be necessary in a new age of social media and digital communication."
Frances Fisher, who posted an Instagram commenting that Riseborough was in the top spot on their Best Actress ballots, is a possible infraction of Academy rules. Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blachett were both nominated for their roles in "Everything All at Once" and "TR."
One may argue that this move violates the law that prohibits anyone from mentioning "the competition" by name or title in a campaign posting. The issue, however, is to what extent is Fisher associated with the "To Leslie" awards campaign.
The successful Riseborough nomination campaign did not appear to elicit a significant shift in the Best Actress nominees, unlike forcing Oscar voters to reorganize their votes, but it serves as a reminder to the Academy to revisit how their rules apply to social media posts. This sort of thing had been on the minds even before the Oscars were announced this year.
The Academy's Board of Governors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, and the organization concludes its statement on an optimistic note, saying, "We have confidence in our nomination and voting procedures, and we support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances."