Grassroots campaigning has its place — even in the Oscar race.
There was a collective gasp across Hollywood this week when Andrea Riseborough was nominated for best actress for her performance in To Leslie, an indie movie that many haven’t heard of despite rave reviews.
The Canadian-based Momentum Pictures acquired To Leslie out of the 2022 edition of South by Southwest. The film was given a limited theatrical release in North America and the U.K. in October 2022, but it did nominal business. It was also made available on premium VOD.
Now, however, cinema owners are asking Momentum if they might have another go. The micro-distributor, which is a division of Entertainment One, will play To Leslie in approximately six theaters in North America this weekend, according a person familiar with the plan. The following week, the movie is expected to be made available in select U.K. theaters.
As awards season got underway, To Leslie was missing from the myriad of movies being plugged by Hollywood’s veritable army of awards consultants. But it did earn a spot on the National Board of Review’s 2022 list of top independent films, while Riseborough is nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.
In recent weeks as Oscar campaigning reached a tipping point, a number of high-profile celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston, took to social media about the movie and Riseborough’s performance.
Aniston and others also hosted screenings of To Leslie, which is inspired by true events and centers on a West Texas single mother who wins a modest $190,000 sum only to squander it in short order. Years later, with her charm running out and nowhere to go, she fights to rebuild a life and find redemption. Riseborough stars opposite Allison Janney, James Landry Hébert, Stephen Root, Owen Teague and Maron in the Momentum Pictures release that was written by Ryan Binaco. Michael Morris directed the indie drama.
Just hours after hearing the news of her Oscar nom, Riseborough spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about the significance of the movie and why capturing the attention and appreciation of her acting peers is so important for her. “So many more people than we anticipated are going to actually have access to the film, and I hope it brings only good things in terms of being able to see it. It’s a beautiful film,” she said.