Andrea Riseborough’s Oscar nomination for independent drama “To Leslie” will not be rescinded, but the use of social media in a grassroots campaign supporting her did not sit well with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
After the film academy announced it would be “conducting a review of campaign procedures” in the wake of Riseborough’s shock best actress nomination, the body’s board of governors deliberated at a previously scheduled meeting on Tuesday.
“Based on concerns that surfaced last week around the ‘To Leslie’ awards campaign, the Academy began a review into the film’s campaigning tactics. The Academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded. However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer said in a statement.
“The purpose of the Academy’s campaign regulations is to ensure a fair and ethical awards process — these are core values of the Academy. Given this review, it is apparent that components of the regulations must be clarified to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive and unbiased campaigning. These changes will be made after this awards cycle and will be shared with our membership. 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 concluded.
Since the Oscar nominations announcement, industry professionals and reporters have been discussing whether the awards campaign for the British actor violated any of the Academy’s strict rules and guidelines. Directed by Michael Morris, “To Leslie” grossed only $28,000 at the box office. But publicists and Riseborough’s supporters mounted a low-cost Oscar campaign, leading to rumors that the group may have exercised “aggressive” tactics to target the 1,302 members of the Actors Branch.
Among the most prominent potential campaigning violations was a since-deleted Instagram post from the “To Leslie” account that quoted an excerpt from Richard Roeper’s top 10 films of the year, which referenced Riseborough’s fellow best actress nominee Cate Blanchett (“Tár”).
Variety spoke with multiple anonymous AMPAS voters over the past week, with the majority agreeing there was no wrongdoing and that her nomination should not be rescinded. That has only happened nine times in the Academy’s history.
The Academy’s first statement after the nominations announcement didn’t specifically name Riseborough or “To Leslie.”
“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,” the statement read. “We have confidence in the integrity of our nomination and voting procedures and support genuine grassroots campaigns for outstanding performances.”
The Academy and its Board of Governors meet annually for a postmortem following its ceremony to discuss any potential changes to the show or its rules. Updates and revisions to rules and regulations could arrive following the Oscars ceremony on March 12.
Bill Kramer, Academy CEO, also sent a letter to Academy members, echoing many of the sentiments in the statement. A copy of the letter is below:
Dear Academy members,
As I am sure many of you have read, there have been some concerns over recent campaigning. Through our review, we discovered social media and outreach tactics that caused concern. We are addressing these concerns directly with the responsible parties.
The purpose of the Academy’s campaign regulations is to ensure a fair and ethical awards process—these are core values of the Academy. It is apparent that components of these regulations must be clarified to help create a better framework for respectful, inclusive, and unbiased campaigning. The Academy continuously assesses and evolves our policies, rules, and procedures, and these changes will be made after this awards cycle and shared with our membership.
We want our members to cast their Oscars votes based solely on the artistic and technical merits of the eligible films and achievements. The integrity of our esteemed institution depends on it. As we head into finals voting, please make sure that you are upholding the Academy’s Standards of Conduct and current Awards rules and campaign regulations. Also, please refrain from publicly discussing your voting preferences or attempting to persuade others to vote similarly.
If you have any questions about these rules and regulations, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, thank you for upholding the values of the Academy—our members help to define who we are as an organization. We have an incredible group of films and artists to honor at the Oscars on March 12, and I hope you all will join in to celebrate them.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Chief Executive Officer