Andrea Riseborough may not be a name that rings many bells for the average moviegoer.
But, chances are, your favorite actor in that one movie you love knows exactly who she is. And they want her to win an Oscar.
It’s, frankly, a strange tale – one that began in October with the limited release of a small-time independent film called “To Leslie,” about what happens when a single mother wins the lottery and runs out of money. Riseborough plays the titular Leslie, in a performance widely praised by critics as some of the best work of her career.
And just last week, Riseborough was nominated for a best actress Academy Award, her first Oscar nomination.
But there are questions surrounding her nomination, which came after a very public push by multiple big-time Hollywood stars – think Gwyneth Paltrow and Amy Adams. Now, without specifically mentioning Riseborough or “To Leslie,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says it is investigating this year’s campaign procedures to ensure no rules were broken. (Contacting Academy members to promote a film or push for an award is forbidden.)
So dim the lights and cue the suspenseful music. Here’s everything you need to know:
Until recently, most Americans hadn’t heard of “To Leslie.” Premiering at South by Southwest in March, the film made just $27,000 at the box office during its limited release.
This month, that changed when some of the biggest names in film threw their weight behind the movie. Paltrow praised the film on Instagram, saying Riseborough should win every award, including “all the ones that haven’t been invented yet.”
Adams hosted a conversation with Riseborough and director Michael Morris, calling the movie an “amazing, amazing feat of filmmaking.”
Kate Winslet, Jennifer Aniston, Edward Norton and Charlize Theron have all also publicly supported the film in various ways, through screenings or moderated discussions.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, other actors have posted almost identical statements supporting the film, calling it a “small film with a giant heart.” Some have likened it to a copy-and-paste job.
Though a celebrity-backed campaign isn’t strictly a grassroots effort, the push for Riseborough and “To Leslie” is akin to one. Rarely do celebrities come out with this type of support for a film they don’t star in, making Riseborough’s rapid ascent unique.
But this isn’t the first time an actor has publicly attempted an Oscars push on their own. A decade ago, actress Melissa Leo staged her own photoshoot and took out her own “For Your Consideration” advertisements. Leo at the time was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in 2010’s “The Fighter.”
“This entire awards process, to some degree, is about pimping yourself out,” she told the New York Times in 2011. Leo went on to win the award.
Read More: Why Andrea Riseborough’s ‘To Leslie’ Oscar campaign has people talking