Christina Ricci Slams Academy's Oscar Nomination Review

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced a full review of the campaigning process, following Andrea Riseborough's surprise Best Actress Oscar nomination for the independent drama To Leslie. Christina Ricci spoke out against this, calling the review "elitist" and "frankly very backward." Riseborough earned a nomination for the little-seen film after a grassroots campaign that included endorsements from Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda, Edward Norton, and many others.

"Seems hilarious that the 'surprise nomination' (meaning tons of money wasn't spent to position this actress) of a legitimately brilliant performance is being met with an investigation," Ricci wrote in a since-deleted Instagram comment, reports The Independent. "So it's only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition? Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me."

The Yellowjackets star believes Riseborough had "nothing to do with the campaigning" for the nomination herself. "These things aren't controlled or decided by the actors themselves and yet now her nomination will be tainted by this," Ricci continued. "And if it's taken away, shame on them."

After the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards were announced on Jan. 24, Riseborough's nomination for Best Actress over shoe-ins like Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King) was a shock. To Leslie grossed just $27,000 after Momentum Pictures released it to theaters in October. The campaign leading to Riseborough's nomination started in October when Howard Stern showed the film with praise on his radio show, reports Variety. Stern has been friends with To Leslie director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack, for decades.

Stern's praise of the film led to a screening hosted by Charlize Theron and Riseborough landed a Spirit Award nomination. McCormack then hired two publicity firms and sent an email to friends asking them to publicly support the movie. During the awards season, Sally Field, Liam Neeson, Mira Sorvino, Geena Davis, Catherine Keener, Laura Dern, Fonda, Demi Moore, and many others all voiced support for the movie. Even Blanchett, who was also nominated in the Best Actress field for Tar, gave a shout-out to Riseborough when she accepted an award at the Critics' Choice Awards.

While Riseborough's performance in To Leslie has been acclaimed by everyone who has seen it, the campaign process has come under scrutiny. On Jan. 27, the Academy told Variety it will conduct a "review of campaign procedures," although the statement did not directly mention To Leslie. Sources told Variety that the Academy will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 31, and Riseborough's nomination will be discussed, although no formal complaints were filed. There is no direct evidence so far to suggest Riseborough was personally involved in campaigning for her own nomination.

"I'm astounded," Riseborough told Deadline after the nominations were announced. "It's such an unexpected ray of light. It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn't been in the running for anything else. Even though we had a lot of support, the idea it might actually happen seemed so far away."

To Leslie was written by Ryan Binaco and directed by Morris. Riseborough stars as a West Texas single mother who becomes an alcoholic after running out of money she won in the lottery. She is given a second chance at life when a motel owner offers her a job. The film cost less than $1 million to make and was shot in just 19 days in Los Angeles during the height of the COVID pandemic. It had its world premiere at South By Southwest in March 2022.