Andrea Riseborough, the unknown (but not so much) actress nominated for an Oscar for ‘To Leslie’

  • The Oscar nomination of the protagonist of ‘To Leslie’, which opens this Friday, has been the most controversial of this edition

  • The compliments that Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Kate Blanchett or Gwyneth Paltrow threw at it in networks and promotional events have been key to putting Riseborough in the spotlight

It is not easy to be one of the actresses of the moment, to be in the first league, to be one of those chosen for the best films. Nor is it easy to stay in that position. YoEven totems like Nicole Kidman, Natalie Portman or Reese Witherspoon have had their pluses and minuses, times at the top and others in a discreet background. It is also not easy to have a name, a constant activity and a solid career when you do not access that higher level. Andrea Riseborough (Great Britain, 1981) has achieved the latter and is about to belong to that minority that gets the attention and the best roles. The reason: his nomination, embroiled in controversy, to the Oscar for Best Leading Actress.

The unusual thing about his nomination for To Leslie (2022) by Michael Morris, an independent film, very small, that had not had much impact on its release (limited in theaters and simultaneous on platform), led the Hollywood Academy to consider whether any rule had been violated in the promotional campaign: his nomination was in jeopardy for a few days. Finally, even with his doubts about campaign tactics, the Academy concluded that the nomination should not be rescinded and Riseborough could walk away with an Oscar next week.

The competition is strong. He doesn’t take it anyway. What she will take forever is the support of her colleagues, who are largely responsible for her nomination—and without detracting from her magnificent work. The compliments that Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Kate Blanchett or Gwyneth Paltrow gave him in networks and promotional events (face-to-face and online), some led by them, have been key to putting Riseborough in the spotlight.

An exemplary career

Even so, it is obvious that before To Leslie, where she plays an alcoholic single mother, the actress was no stranger. Riseborough is, without going any further, Mandy, one of the most beautiful characters that recent horror movies have produced, the protagonist together with Nicolas Cage of the fundamental Mandy (2018) by Panos Cosmatos. She is an interpreter with an extensive career in theater, film and television. It is the high school that steals the scene and the protagonist of which everyone runs to look for her name on their mobile to find out where they had seen her before.

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It is mostly thanks to Cosmatos and Brandon Cronenberg (Possessor Uncut), a cult actress for fans of fantasy, science fiction and horror. He has made a lot of indie films but also big movies. He has worked under Mike Leigh (Happy, a story about happiness), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (birdman), Tom Ford (Nocturnal animals), Armando Iannucci (Stalin’s death), David O. Russell (Amsterdam) and even Madonna (WE). Ella y ella racks up awards and accolades, including a BAFTA nomination for playing Margaret Thatcher in the TV movie Margaret Thatcher: The Long Walk To Finchley and the award for best actress at the Sitges festival (for Mandy).

But, curricular milestones aside, Andrea Riseborough is, above all, a powerful and tremendously versatile actress, with an amazing flexibility in adapting to characters that have nothing to do with each other: from Leslie’s pain to the eccentricity of the mother of Matilda in the Netflix musical. She never plays herself, something actresses and actors who work hard tend to do. (or so the viewer perceives it by getting too used to them). It is always different and always surprising. And there’s an immense sadness in her very powerful gaze for the camera. Maybe she won’t win the Oscar, but surely this nomination will mean that we don’t have to look at the name of that good actress on our phones.

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