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The Academy May Rescind Andrea Riseborough's Best Actress Oscar Nom, Insider Says

It's possible that the last-minute campaign for the little-known movie broke a rule.

The Oscar nominees for this year were announced on Jan. 24, and one of the most shocking nods was Andrea Riseborough for Best Actress. A major social media campaign for the star of the independent film To Leslie had kicked off only about two weeks prior. But while A-list actors were singing her praises in Instagram posts, it still seemed unlikely that Riseborough would be one of the five names on the Academy's list.

The fact that the campaign worked has been a hot topic of conversation among awards season devotees, since it was so untraditional and the nomination so unexpected. But others have called out the surge of support leading to Riseborough being recognized while Black actors Viola Davis (for The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (for Till) were not, despite being singled out as favorites earlier in the race.

Now, it appears that there may be another twist in the lead-up to this year's Oscars. One insider is reporting that the Academy could decide to rescind Riseborough's nomination. Read on to find out why.

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Several A-listers touted Riseborough's performance on social media.

Voting for this year's Oscars began on Jan. 12 and lasted until Jan. 17. It was at this same time that many famous actors began posting about Riseborough's performance in To Leslie on social media, which certainly did not seem like a coincidence, especially since the film didn't seem to be a part of the Oscar conversation before. Some celebrities even put their star power behind the independent drama by hosting screenings. Famous faces who have publicly supported Riseborough include Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Sarandon, Edward Norton, and many more.

According to the Puck newsletter, actor Mary McCormack, who is married to To Leslie director Michael Morris, emailed celebrities asking them to post about the movie and worked with Riseborough's manager Jason Weinberg on the campaign. "If you're willing to post every day between now and Jan 17th, that would be amazing! But anything is helpful, so please do whatever makes you comfortable. And what's more comfortable than posting about a movie every day!," part of her email reportedly reads.

Oscar campaigns are bound by rules.

Andrea Riseborough at the Venice Film Festival in 2019
Denis Makarenko / Shutterstock

Puck reports that the campaign that led to Riseborough's Oscar nomination may have broken a rule against lobbying.

"Contacting Academy members directly and in a manner outside of the scope of these rules to promote a film or achievement for Academy Award consideration is expressly forbidden," the rule from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reads. The rules also include restrictions on screenings and what can be included in mailings and emails.

According to the newsletter, the Academy is reportedly looking into whether the To Leslie campaign broke any rules, and that the issue will likely be discussed about in a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

On the afternoon of Jan. 27, the Academy issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter confirming their review of this year's field without singling To Leslie out by name.

"It is the Academy's goal to ensure that the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner, and we are committed to ensuring an inclusive awards process," the statement reads. "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 to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication. We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures, and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances."

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One actor's post is reportedly being scrutinized.

Frances Fisher at a Farrah Fawcett Foundation event in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

In supporting Riseborough, actor Frances Fisher may have gone against the Academy's guidelines. As Puck notes, actor she wrote on Instagram, "To my fellow #Actors in @TheAcademy…. #AndreaRiseborough can secure an #Oscar nomination if 218 (out of 1,302) actors in the Actors branch nominate her in first position for #BestActress….Seems to be that Viola, Michelle [Yeoh], Danielle & Cate [Blanchett] are a lock for their outstanding work."

A rule from the Academy states, "Ads, mailings, websites, social media (including Facebook and Twitter) or any other forms of public communication by anyone directly associated with an eligible film attempting to cast a negative or derogatory light on a competing film or achievement will not be tolerated."

So though this post seems to be written to dissuade voters from ranking any of the other women she mentioned higher than Riseborough, if Fisher is deemed not "directly associated" with To Leslie, then she hasn't broken the rule. If the Academy were to determine that she had, Fisher could face a "one-year suspension of membership for first-time violations."

Nominations have been rescinded in the past.

Bruce Broughton at the 2018 ASCAP Pop Music Awards
Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic via Getty Images

If Riseborough's nomination is taken back, it won't be the first time this has happened. As explained by Mental Floss, there have been revoked nominations over the years. In 2014, "Alone Yet Not Alone" from the movie of the same name was taking out of the running for Best Original Song. Bruce Broughton, the song's composer, had sent emails to Academy members, which wasn't allowed as he was a former member of the board of governors and an executive committee member.

In 2017, four people were nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing for 13 Hours, but one of them, Greg P. Russell, was removed for "telephone lobbying."

No one would replace Riseborough, however.

Andrea Riseborough at the 2015 Critics' Choice Awards
Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

When an Academy Award nomination is rescinded, it is not replaced. "In the event a nominated achievement is declared ineligible by the Academy, it shall not be replaced, and the category will remain with one less nomination," the rules read.

So, if Riseborough's nomination is revoked, there will only be four Best Actress nominees: Ana de Armas for Blonde, Blanchett for Tár, Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans, and Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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