Brandon Cronenberg on Possessor Star Andrea Riseboroughs Surprise Oscar Nom: Im Thrilled

Andrea Riseborough is officially a 2023 Oscar nominee after a surprising, and seemingly last-minute, Academy Awards marketing campaign, backed by A-listers like Kate Winslet, Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

After grossing just $27,000 in an October release from Momentum Pictures, the drama “To Leslie” landed Riseborough her first Oscar nod after starring in past films like “Mandy,” “Nocturnal Animals,” and “Birdman.” Riseborough plays an alcoholic Texan single mother who wastes her lottery winnings in TV director Michael Morris’ feature debut. The performance put Riseborough among fellow 2023 Best Actress nominees Blanchett (“TÁR”), Ana de Armas (“Blonde”), Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”), and Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”).

Riseborough told Deadline that even she is “astounded” by the nomination. “It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn’t been in the running for anything else,” the actress said. “Even though we had a lot of support, the idea it might actually happen seemed so far away.”

She was previously nominated for Best Actress at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, and additionally starred in “Amsterdam” and “Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical” this year.

Now, “Infinity Pool” helmer Brandon Cronenberg, who directed her in 2020’s “Possessor,” is unpacking Riseborough’s rise to the 2023 Oscars and what it means for the future of independent films.

“I’m thrilled for her. I’m not just saying this because I know her: I actually think she’s one of the best working actresses right now,” Cronenberg told IndieWire’s Eric Kohn. “I don’t think in the past she’s received enough recognition for her work, so this is fantastic.”

Cronenberg continued, “In terms of that side of the industry, it’s weird, because on the one hand, I don’t think from a creative perspective those awards mean anything, but someone like Andrea can go unrecognized for so many years. However, I often don’t feel that the movies that win for Best Picture or the performances that win Best Actor or Actress are the best performances of that year. It’s so subjective and deeply political because it requires launching a whole campaign and has so much to do with the politics inside the Academy. So I don’t think they necessarily represent the peak of artistry — but it does end up affecting you just in terms of getting a film financed.”

So, what does that mean if Riseborough and, inherently, “To Leslie” wins?

“Now, if it has Andrea attached and she has an Oscar nomination, or if she wins, that’ll be huge for her career because it ends up I guess making her more visible in a way that then leads to financiers being more comfortable with her,” Cronenberg said of Riseborough’s indie-to-mainstream bankable crossover capability. “They intersect in a kind of obnoxious way, but there’s kind of no way around it.”

The independent filmmaker quipped, “I just need to win an Oscar, and I’ll be fine.”

Reporting by Eric Kohn.

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