Friday, April 19, 2024

Oscars: Is It Too Late for “To Leslie”? Very Last Minute Push May Not Be Enough for Indie Film Starring Andrea Riseborough


Last night on the Critics Choice Awards you may have heard Cate Blanchett praise British actress Andrea Riseborough and her indie film “To Leslie.”

Over the weekend, the movie and actress were mentioned by Kate Winslet, as well, and Jane Fonda and Frances Fisher plugged it on social media.

Last week there was a screening at CAA hosted by Demi Moore, with Gwyneth Paltrow in attendance among others. All of CAA seems to have awakened at the last minute to push “To Leslie.”

But it may not be enough.

The smart indie was released in October and scored 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. I never heard of it until the other day, and neither had most critics or press. I received one email about it in November for a Los Angeles screening, and nothing ever again.

The problem now is, Oscar nominating ballots must be returned tomorrow. Most voters have never heard of this movie. Why? is a good question. The distributor, Momentum Pictures, is a subsidiary of the very well fixed Entertainment One, from Canada. They’ve released a lot of movies and know who all the publicity people are. They could certainly have launched a campaign of some kind. It’s not even clear if it was released in the US for eligibility. All I can find is a UK release that netted $1,429.

Momentum bought “To Leslie” after the South by Southwest Festival last March 2022. So why didn’t they show it at Tribeca or Toronto? (I mean, they’re Canadian, of all things.) Why did it get no press all year? Riseborough isn’t well known, but Oscar winner Allison Janney is in the film. She’s a big TV star from “Mom.” Certainly something could have been done.

“To Leslie” is directed by Michael Morris. Riseborough plays a familiar character: an addict who’s trying to straighten out her life. Writer Ryan Binaco based Leslie on his own West Texas mother, who won the lottery and spent the money in every wrong way. You can catch is on streaming services.

But “To Leslie” probably won’t make the Oscars. It barely made the Spirit Awards with Riseborough scoring a nomination for Best Actress. Yet Momentum didn’t try to capitalize on that either. Right now, the Oscars leading actress category is pretty set with Michelle Williams, Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Danielle Deadwyler, and Viola Davis the likely five finalists. So maybe Riseborough will get something good out of all this in the way of another, bigger role that will net her buzz next time around. She deserves it.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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