We’re in the thick of award season, with the race to Oscars glory heating up following the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.
While some contenders feel like a shoe-in, more and more Hollywood celebrities appear to be backing one actress who has flown under the radar.
Here’s what you need to know about the grassroots campaign, and when we’ll know if it’s paid off.
She might not be a household name here in Australia, but Andrea Riseborough is an English actress who has been working for decades.
You might recognise her from the film Amsterdam, starring Margot Robbie, or Matilda The Musical on Netflix.
But it’s the 2022 independent film To Leslie which might be her chance to nab an Oscar nomination.
The film, directed by Michael Morris, is follows a single mother from Texas (Riseborough) who wins the lottery, only to squander it just as fast.
To Leslie was released last October by independent film distributor Momentum Pictures, a subsidiary of Entertainment One.
It made only $23,304 at the box office but has scored 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has over 9,000 voting members, including directors, actors, cinematographers and editors.
Most categories are nominated by the corresponding branch members (actresses for Best Actress), but everyone gets to nominate films for Best Picture.
Members can choose up to five nominees in order of preference in their category, similar to filling out your ballot on election day.
Once voting closes, accountants begin the process of counting the ballots, where those with the lowest scores are knocked out until the top five contenders (or top 10 for Best Picture) remain.
Another way award season campaigns are similar to political ones is that studios spend time and money convincing the industry to vote for their film by hosting events and screening sessions.
That leaves independent production houses with small budgets to rely purely on word of mouth, which is what’s happening with Andrea Riseborough.
A lot of people.
Kate Winslet hosted a Q&A with Riseborough and director Michael Morris, and told Andrea her work in To Leslie is “the greatest female performance on screen I have ever seen in my life.”
Australian actress Cate Blanchett praised Riseborough’s performance both on the red carpet and on stage at the Critics Choice Awards yesterday.
Five days ago Gwyneth Paltrow and Demi Moore watched To Leslie with Riseborough and Morris.
“Andrea should win every award there is and all the ones that haven’t been invented yet,” Paltrow wrote on Instagram.
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At the same time, Glass Onion star Edward Norton had nothing but praise for the film and Riseborough.
But there’s one phrase that keeps popping up in several tweets from those in the industry: “a small film with a giant heart.”
Actors Mia Farrow, Joe Mantegna, Dulé Hill and broadcaster Meredith Vieira have all tweeted their support from the film, with multiple phrases word for word.
Oscar nominations close today, so while this grassroots campaign might look odd, the attention its gained online might help it bag some crucial last minute votes.
Anything could happen, and Hollywood might love the idea of a dark horse taking out the win.
Riseborough hasn’t been nominated for the most recognisable awards all season, but that could change with the BAFTA nominations due to be released on January 19 ahead of the ceremony on February 20.
But if the current award season tells us anything, Cate Blanchett is a firm favourite with voters after winning both a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award for Tár.
You also can’t rule out Michelle Yeoh, who won a Golden Globe for Everything Everywhere all at Once.
Blanchett and Yeoh were able to both win at the Golden Globes due to Tár being a drama and Everything Everywhere being a comedy.
Oscar voting closes today, with the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards to be announced on January 24.
The Oscars will be handed out much later, on March 12.
In the meantime, the BAFTA Awards are happening on February 19, with the Screen Actors Guild Awards taking place on February 26.
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