When Momentum Pictures was born, in 2000, it did so by distributing none other than the Coen brothers (‘O brother!’), Christopher McQuarrie (‘Hell Kidnapping’), John Waters (‘Cecil B. Demented’) and Darren Aronofsky ( ‘Requiem for a Dream’). Nevertheless, Over the years it has become a stronghold for the most independent cinema between independent or very low-budget cinema, with films that hardly smell the billboard or go directly to the video-on-demand market.
For this reason, after buying ‘To Leslie’ when seeing it at the SXSW festival, the distributor decided to release it in such a limited way that it barely grossed $27,322 in the United States. They didn’t even set up press passes, special screenings or screeners: ‘To Leslie’ was on its way to becoming one more film of those that artificially fatten the catalog of some streaming service. Then, What has happened so that, without campaigning, Andrea Riseborough has been nominated for an Oscar? Have the awards done justice or is there something else behind? Has it been an organic or orchestrated campaign? We are going to solve all the doubts about the ‘To Leslie’ case, the film that until yesterday you did not know existed.
for the oscars
before anything, It is necessary to explain how the “For Your Consideration” campaign works of the Oscars, even without delving into it, because there are not a few people who believe that academics see all the films and choose the one that they think is the best. In a world where marketing didn’t exist, of course that would happen. But it exists, and in what way: the producers and distributors choose the awards for which they consider their films should be eligible and they campaign for those that seem most affordable to them.
For example, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ asks to be considered for best picture, but where it really affects interviews and asking for the vote is the one that is closest to hand: Angela Bassett. It seems not, but companies spend millions of dollars every awards season to attract the attention of academics and, above all, the American press. This has been done for decades, as an already extended practice.
That is why the movement that ‘To Leslie’ has made is so important, leaving aside the press and the coba to the academics and pulling contacts. Its director, Michael Morris, has worked on series such as ‘House of cards’, ‘Halt and catch fire’ or ‘Better call Saul’, and his wife, Mary McCormack, is known for ‘The West Wing of the Casablanca’, ‘ Murder one’ or ‘In the open’. His spider web reached the most powerful people in Hollywoodand they were not willing to stop entangling her.
What Hollywood taught us
The week before the nominations, at the time when the academics had to vote, Tweets, Instagram posts, interviews and, in general, support from absolutely all of Hollywood began to emerge. encouraging you to vote for Andrea Riseborough. Edward Norton tweeted about her powerful performance, Gwyneth Paltrow posted a photo on Instagram after her screening (“Andrea should win every award out there and the ones yet to be invented”), Kate Winslet raved about her. Do you want more public support? Demi Moore, Naomi Watts, Laura Dern, Jennifer Aniston… Even Jane Fonda made a story asking for her nomination and Cate Blanchett herself named her when she received the Critics Choice!
This path to the awards (and this week in particular) has revealed three very important things in Hollywood: the first, that the prizes continue to matter, especially to grow careers that may have gone under the radar. A Tom Cruise nomination matters little to him, but it opens doors for Andrea Riseborough. The second, that the actors (look at each award ceremony and the protagonists of ‘Everything at the same time everywhere’) they want to sell us in an exaggerated way that they are all friends and there is no rivalry between them, like the way to rebuild a battered star system.
The third and most important: The production companies no longer need the media or spend millions to set up posters throughout Los Angeles with “For Your Consideration” movies. If ‘To Leslie’ has gotten a nomination based solely on contacts, favors, friendship and an intelligent use of social networks during a single crucial week, with exquisite timinghow far can a film go that uses its efforts and its budget in new ways to reach academics beyond the traditional ones?
And now that?
Andrea Riseborough herself has tried to sell this milestone as a small miracle that has come together naturally, but the truth is that you have to be very gullible to believe that something in Hollywood happens organically. And for proof, the fact that many of the celebrity messages were copied and pasted (“A small movie with a giant heart”), probably asking for something along the lines of “Please put this in your own words”.
It has attracted attention, but in no case can it be confused with something more than doing a favor to a friend who has acted outside of distributors and producers. This is something that is also important: Momentum Pictures has had no interest in promoting the film beyond the usual four tweets and an Instagram account, and If interest revives now, it will not be thanks to his efforts, but to that of the director himself and the teamwho now owe him half an industry.
‘To Leslie’ can live on in history as a footnote or as the flame that started an explosion of change. in Hollywood. Who knows! At the moment, Riseborough is also nominated for the Independent Spirit, which is awarded a week before the Oscars, but two days after voting closes, so win or lose will be irrelevant. Will this viral campaign be able to turn the tables and leave Cate Blanchett or Michelle Yeoh without an award? Time will tell.
For now, one piece of information: of the two awards he has already won for his performance, one was at the Gijón festival. So that later they say that we are not twenty steps ahead in Spain.