Until a few weeks ago, most people hadn’t heard of “To Leslie,” an indie film about a woman trying to rebuild her life while battling drug addiction and alcoholism. Now, the film’s star Andrea Riseborough has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.
So how did such a small film fall apart seemingly at the last minute? Awards pundits wrongly assumed that the celebrity-backed campaign, while noteworthy, was a little late in getting nominations. It comes down to support from the film community, Riseborough said Tuesday.
“The idea that you need endless resources, I don’t think that’s necessarily true,” Riseborough says diversity Shortly after the Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday morning. “Those who confirmed are our community. It seems the film community has rallied around and made a noise.”
A publicity stunt of sorts began in October when Howard Stern began discussing the film on his SiriusXM show. “To Leslie” director Michael Morris and his wife, actor Mary McCormack, showed the movie to Stern in July during their annual wedding anniversary celebration with Stern. McCormack and Stern’s relationship goes back decades, when she played Alison, the shock jock’s first wife, in the 1997 biopic “Private Parts.”
According to sources, Stern asked to see “To Leslie” after Morris and McCormack told him about the movie and showed him rave reviews in the trades — including diversity – It was released in March 2022 after the film premiered at South by Southwest.
Stern then began performing “To Leslie,” which was shot in just 19 days in Los Angeles during the height of the Covid pandemic, on his show to coincide with the film’s release in the fall. “It really took everyone by surprise,” a source tells me.
A screening hosted by Charlize Theron at UTA followed. After receiving a Riseborough Spirit Award nomination, McCormack began working with publicity powerhouses Shelter PR and Narrative PR. McCormack sent out an email to friends asking them to publicly support the film and Riseborough’s performance, even suggesting photos and hashtags and tagging accounts in social media posts. “If you are willing to post every day between now and January 17th [the last day of Oscar nomination voting]that would be great!” he wrote in an email received diversity. “But anything helps, so please do whatever makes you comfortable. And what’s more relaxing than posting about a movie every day!”
More celebrity endorsements have kicked in during awards season. Among those who posted tributes on social media were Sally Field, Liam Neeson, Jane Fonda, Laura Dern, Catherine Keener, Geena Davis and Mira Sorvino. Further screenings of “To Leslie” were hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, Courteney Cox and Edward Norton. Mini Driver is set to host a screening in Los Angeles tomorrow night.
Kate Winslet and Amy Adams conducted virtual Q&As with Riseborough.
Cate Blanchett was so moved by Riseborough’s performance that she gave him a shout-out during her acceptance speech at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
And the rest became history on Tuesday morning.