The secret weapon of ‘To Leslie’ to sweep Hollywood: nobody paid attention to her but word of mouth has made her an Oscar nominee

Directed by Michael Morris in his film debut, the film features a masterful Andrea Riseborough who deserves all possible recognition.

Among the Oscar nominees there is always a movie that no one has heard of that sneaks in unexpectedly. They are usually wonderful titles that are out of the best-known circuit and that offer pleasant surprises. This year that is To Leslie, a beautiful drama based on true events where a woman with alcoholism tries to rebuild her life. It could have been lost among the dozens of weekly releases, but the film has stood out thanks to word of mouth.

To Leslie tells the true story of a single mom from Texas who wins the lottery. Overnight she has $190,000 more in her account that could fix her life forever, but good luck hits Leslie right in the face. He ends up squandering everything on alcohol and partying, unable to accept the money at the bank. The movie starts six years later of the news and Leslie spends her time wandering around looking for some alcohol to put into her body..

The relationship with his son has been completely broken and now it is his turn to rebuild himself to try to start again. What she finds when she returns to her old life are closed doors and no one wants to help her again. A social drama that owes everything to a wonderful Andrea Riseborough. It is impossible to look away from his performance and the proof is in the Oscar nomination for Best Actress that has been earned hard.

A word-of-mouth campaign that has fascinated Jane Fonda, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett

If Andrea Riseborough is nominated for an Oscar, it’s because the director, Michael Morris, and his wife, Mary McCormack, organized a campaign to generate word of mouth among key Hollywood contacts. They only needed to ask them to watch the movie and to recommend it if they really liked it. What happen after? That they obtained a mass response led by figures like Kate Winslet or Jane Fonda in favor of the tape.

Jane Fonda, for example, claimed that it was “a brave and flawless performance”; Kate Winslet was also quite blunt: “the best female performance I’ve ever seen”; and Susan Sarandon defined it as “a little gem”. These are just a few examples of a viral campaign that called into question the actress’s Oscar nomination for having resorted to “personal greetings or requests to see the film.” A few days later the Academy decided to go ahead with Riseborough’s nomination.

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And all of this comes because the distributor, Momentum Pictures, didn’t fund a conventional awards campaign to promote the film. The director, Michael Morris, decided to act on his own when he saw that the company did not trust the tape and he taught us all a lesson: do not trust what others say, if you think that yours is worth it, go for it .

Had it not been for this campaign, surely many of us would have been left without discovering the immense talent of the actress in front of the camera. Morris shows that he has a hand for storytelling and staging; yet they are Riseborough and Marc Maron -we did not forget to mention this supporting actor who would have also deserved an Oscar nomination- those who prevent the film from becoming a forgettable social product. They give their characters a tenderness that reaches the cinema seat.