The British actor stars in indie drama To Leslie as a Texas mother who wins the lottery. But while her performance received rave reviews, the film made just £22,000 in the global box office when it was released in October, leading many to believe that not enough awards voters had seen it to be a contender.
However, in mid-January, a guerrilla campaign began for Riseborough’s nomination on social media. High-profile stars, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Jennifer Aniston and Jane Fonda, all praised the film online, calling for it to be considered by awards voters. Cate Blanchett also mentioned Riseborough in her speech as she accepted her Critics Choice Award.
Following the news that she had been nominated for an Oscar on Tuesday, Riseborough said that she was “astounded” by the news.
But while social media users agreed that her little-seen performance was deserving of award recognition, many shared their frustration that the two Black actors deemed to be frontrunners in the category (Danielle Deadwyler for Till, Viola Davis for The Woman King) had not earned nominations.
“All for a ‘small movie with a big heart’ getting recognition,” wrote film critic Chris James. “Yet, it feels weird to have Andrea Riseborough get in after one week of famous friends go on IG, while Danielle Deadwyler (also in a ‘small movie with a big heart’) pounded the pavement for months to wind up snubbed.”
Journalist Rendy Jones commented: “In retrospect, I love Andrea Riseborough, because she’s a phenomenal actress. The context of her nomination though is really bizarre. The influence of popular white girls garnering you an Oscar nomination when you weren’t even in conversation, it’s giving high school energy.”
“Problem is not that a long list of white actors were happy to champion Andrea Riseborough,” one Twitter user wrote. “Problem is that none of them felt the need to do it for the minority contenders in lead categories.”
“The most powerful actors in Hollywood — Theron, Paltrow, Aniston, Norton, Arquette — rallied at the 11th hour to secure an Oscar nom for Andrea Riseborough,” tweeted writer Anthony Christian Ocampo. “It’s true that her performance was stellar. It’s also true that this effort would never happen for an actress of colour.”
“You can think Andrea Riseborough is an *insane* talent, that awards campaigns are inherently unfair anyway, and also ask if those in the actors branch would similarly cob their weight behind a Black woman. Esp in a year with no noms for Black women in Lead Actress,” wrote former Empire editor Terri White.
Blanchett for Tár, Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once, Michelle Williams for The Fabelmans and Ana de Armas for Blonde round out the Best Actress category.
The 95th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday 12 March.