Though she’s prolific, Andrea Riseborough isn’t exactly the type of actress that you recognize.
For one thing, she’s not a movie star. No superhero movies, no big-budget sequels, no paparazzi photos in People. For another, she tends to disappear into roles, adopting a different look for seemingly every appearance.
But her fellow actors have recognized her —— with her first Oscar nomination for a little seen alcoholism drama called To Leslie. The film, released in October, grossed a mere $27,322, according to Box Office Mojo. That averages out to about 2,500 paying customers.
Academy voters, however, didn’t have to trudge to the multiplex to see it (not that the movie was showing there). Instead, To Leslie director Michael Morris and his wife, actress Mary McCormack, ran a grassroots campaign —— in conjunction with the powerful talent agency CAA —— that called on big-name friends such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Charlize Theron to not just tweet and talk about the film but also host screenings for other actors.
The tactic worked, and it will likely be enough to get the film a second (first?) life on streaming as Oscar watchers try to pack everything in before the March 12 telecast. (The film is available for rent and purchase on Prime Video.)
If you’re reticent to shell out $6.99 but are looking for a primer to Riseborough, who’s been in everything from 2014’s Birdman to Netflix’s recent Matilda musical, here are four recommendations:
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, Oblivion served as a training run for the filmmaker’s 2022 partnership with Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick. One can glimpse in Oblivion some of the striking aerial visuals he perfected in Maverick. However, unlike the latter film, Oblivion doesn’t have an Oscar-nominated screenplay, leaving Riseborough to do her best with clunky expository dialogue.
Riseborough’s body language does much of the work, taking what might have otherwise been a wet-blanket girlfriend role and presenting a portrait of a woman who sees her partner’s affections are slipping away. She’s at her best as a temptress in a nighttime pool scene —— a hail mary attempt to save a dying relationship before she icily locks him out of their shared life.
Battle of the Sexes (2017)
Battle of the Sexes netted Emma Stone and Steve Carell Golden Globe nominations for their portrayals of tennis icon Billie Jean King and chauvinistic backhander Bobby Riggs, respectively. But its Riseborough, in the third lead, who has the toughest part.
As Marilyn Barnett, King’s hairdresser, she’s comfortable with her sexuality in a way that the closeted tennis star can only aspire to be. Riseborough’s tasked with developing chemistry with a married woman who doesn’t yet know she’s fallen in love. Instead of playing a paint-by-numbers home-wrecker, Riseborough makes Barnett a minor tragic figure who can’t play by the rules of love society has established.
Black Mirror, “Crocodile” (2017)
Whereas Oblivion asks Riseborough to be a theoretically perfect match for the most-famous film star in the world, “Crocodile,” a particularly unsettling episode of anthology series Black Mirror strips her down to a person who can barely stand to be with herself.
After being reminded of a deadly mistake years prior, Riseborough’s character, a successful architect, must resort to ever-greater measures to keep it hidden. As the evil compounds, Riseborough does in an hour what Bryan Cranston had five seasons of Breaking Bad to get to.
ZeroZeroZero had the dual misfortune of not only premiering right before the pandemic hit but also airing on Amazon Prime, a streamer that hasn’t quite figured out how to promote the edgy series it green lights.
Riseborough gets to show her range here again (and adopt a whole new look), as Emma Lynwood, the daughter of a shipping company owner who just so happens to keep the family afloat by connecting drug sellers with drug buyers. After the death of her father, she finds herself moving more firmly into a world where violent men want to call all the shots. Contrast her it’s-all-business approach opposite international narcos with gentle turn as a surrogate mother to a Huntington’s-afflicted younger brother, and you have the makings of a meaty performance.
You must be logged in to post a comment.