The Academy will not take action against the campaign that helped boost actress Andrea Riseborough to a Best Actress nomination for the little-seen film “To Leslie,” Academy CEO Bill Kramer said in an email released on Tuesday.
Kramer said in the email that the Academy “has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded.” He added, though, “we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly.”
Kramer’s email also conceded that the Academy needed to clarify its campaign rules, and said it would do so after this year’s Oscars. Typically, AMPAS releases new rules both for the Oscars and for campaigning in the late spring, after the Board of Governors meets to go over the past awards season.
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 The Academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded.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.
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.
The decision not to rescind the nomination was made at a regularly-scheduled meeting of the AMPAS Board of Governors, who met on Tuesday and added a discussion of this year’s campaign to the agenda after questions arose about the campaign last week.
Riseborough’s nomination for “To Leslie,” a little-seen movie that played for only one week in Los Angeles and made $27,000, came as a shock when it was announced on Jan. 24. Many famous supporters of the actress’ performance, including Edward Norton, Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams, had tweeted about her or hosted screenings of the film, but Riseborough was considered a dark horse unlikely to be nominated over Danielle Deadwyler for “Till” or Viola Davis for “The Woman King.”
In the aftermath of her nomination, some people noticed the similarity between many pro-Riseborough tweets and wondered if the “grassroots campaign” was more organized, perhaps in violation of Oscar campaign rules that are somewhat vague when it comes to social media. Posts on social media by actress Frances Fisher and by the official “To Leslie” account included mention of other contenders in the category, which is directly forbidden by Academy campaign regulations.
In recent years, two nominees — songwriter Bruce Broughton and sound mixer Greg P. Russell — had their nominations rescinded after campaign violations that involved illegal lobbying.
Riseborough was considered unlikely to meet a similar fate.