The biggest surprise among the acting Oscar nominations this year was Andrea Riseborough as Best Actress. There were three reasons awards-predictors did not expect to hear her name. First, the movie she starred in, “To Leslie,” was made for under one million dollars and made about $30,000. Very few people saw it. This is the kind of film that is overlooked, possibly a candidate for a Spirit award but not in the same category as big-budget, big-stars Oscar movies. Second, there was no big-budget FYC (“For your consideration”) publicity campaign to make sure Academy voters saw it. Third, her performance got unprecedented support from industry insiders like Gwyneth Paltrow who took to social media to urge Academy voters to consider her.
The part that is not a surprise for anyone who has seen her is that Riseborough’s performance was extraordinary. She always is. You may have seen her before but not realized it because she inhabits every role so completely it is easy to forget it is the same actress.
There is some controversy about the way her nomination was supported. One social media post compared her to another actor, which is not allowed under the rules. But that has nothing to do with Riseborough, who did nothing wrong. Whatever happens to the nomination, I hope audiences watch “To Leslie” and seek out some of her other performance. Here are some I especially recommend.
I interviewed Riseborough and the director of Luxor, a quiet film about one-time lovers finding each other in Egypt’s historic city.
Riseborough starred opposite Tom Cruise in “Oblivion,” set in 2077. A veteran assigned to extract Earth’s remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.
She was a hairdresser who becomes romantically involved with Billie Jean King in “ Battle of the Sexes.”