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Oscars 2023: Andrea Riseborough keeps her nomination – But where have you seen her before?

Andrea Riseborough keeps nomination following Academy investigation - buy where have you seen her before?
Andrea Riseborough keeps nomination following Academy investigation - buy where have you seen her before? Copyright BBC Films, Signature Entertainment, RLJE Films, Entertainment One Films
Copyright BBC Films, Signature Entertainment, RLJE Films, Entertainment One Films
By David Mouriquand
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Andrea Riseborough keeps nomination following Academy investigation – but where have you seen her before? Here are some of her best performances.

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The Andrea Riseborough nomination “investigation” has come to an end.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has determined that no punitive action will be taken against the Best Actress Oscar nominee or those who lobbied for her to receive recognition.

“The Academy has determined the activity in question does not rise to the level that the film’s nomination should be rescinded,” Academy chief executive Bill Kramer said in a statement. “However, we did discover social media and outreach campaigning tactics that caused concern. These tactics are being addressed with the responsible parties directly.”

The British actress was considered something of an outsider and a shock-nominee for Best Actress, and her nomination for her role in To Leslie was championed by A-listers like Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The backlash was swift. Essentially, as reported by Euronews Culture earlier this week, the Academy was suspicious that the low-budget film too small to fund a For Your Consideration campaign didn’t spend the habitual millions lobbying voters, and instead managed to secure a nomination through a back-door campaign.

AP
The 2023 Best Actress nominees - Cate Blanchett (left), Ana de Armas (center left), Andrea Riseborough (center), Michelle Williams (center right), Michelle Yeoh (right)AP

Now that the whole hypocritical mess is behind us and that Riseborough’s nomination has not been rescinded, it’s time not only to celebrate a worthy nomination alongside Cate Blachett (Tár), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Ana de Armas (Blonde) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) - which also means that Riseborough now has “Oscar nominee” tacked onto her name for life, a depressingly important tag which helps in no small way for future roles and contract negotiations - but also the fact that this sad Oscar debacle might hopefully compel viewers unfamiliar with her work to start paying close attention.

And they won’t be disappointed. They'll learn that her powerful portrayal of an alcoholic single mother who wins the lottery but squanders the money in To Leslie is no one-time fluke. 

AP
Andrea Riseborough in 'To Leslie'AP

Not heard of Riseborough? You've probably seen her on screen over the years and didn’t realise. She has been a consistent working actress for almost twenty years; moreover, rare are performers who manage to be so versatile and chameleonic across all film genres. 

Here is some of the Newcastle-born performer’s finest work.

Brighton Rock (2010)

Adapted from Graham Greene's novel, this fantastic crime movie set in 1960s Brighton was Riseborough’s breakout role. She may have made an impression in Made in Dagenham (more on that one in a bit) but her role as Rose signaled her as a talent to keep a close eye on. Directed by Rowan Joffé, Brighton Rock follows how Rose falls for sociopathic gang enforcer Pinkie Brown (Sam Riley) after witnessing his gang’s dodgy dealings. The way the young actress holds her own during some excellent scenes with the great Helen Mirren, who plays her boss trying to save her from a bad romance, are particular highlights.

Made in Dageham (2010)

2010 was a big year for Riseborough, and although Nigel Cole’s comedy-drama draws its power from its ensemble cast of British heavyweights and soon-to-be major talents (featuring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson and Rosamund Pike), Andrea Riseborough stood out as Brenda, one of the female workers protesting and demanding equal pay during the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike. Like Brighton Rock, her performance marked her out as a screen presence to be reckoned with.

Shadow Dancer (2012)

This emotionally-charged British-Irish spy drama set in 1990s Belfast saw Riseborough get top billing alongside Clive Owen and Gillian Anderson as Colette McVeigh, an IRA sympathizer who begrudgingly accepts to spy on her own family as an MI5 mole. Riseborough brilliantly conveys her character’s moral turmoil, and she once again shines bright in this terrific slow-burner.

Oblivion (2013)

This underrated 2013 science fiction movie starring Tom Cruise had Riseborough playing Victoria, one of the two last humans left on Earth. As Victoria’s true mission is revealed, her character arc allows the actress the opportunity to weave more layers into what originally seemed as a thankless supporting gig. She gradually becomes the enigmatic beating heart of this occasionally derivative but hugely entertaining blockbuster, managing to deftly balance conflicting identities. And again, if you can hold your own opposite Tom Cruise, what can’t you do?

The Death of Stalin (2017)

From TV’s The Thick Of It and In The Loop to the fantastic Veep, writer-director Armando Iannucci has proven to be one of the most scathingly brilliant political satirists around. The Death of Stalin didn’t disappoint: it’s a vicious and thought-provoking satire based on historical fact that sees an eye-watering acting roster jostling for power in the aftermath of the titular dictator’s death. Riseborough got to flex her comedic muscles playing the Stalin's daughter Svetlana. She tries to navigate the uncertainty following her father's death, and her scenes show her as resilient, traumatized and yearning to break free. Above all, Riseborough’s stellar acting brings great depth and heart to the film, a dark comedy that constantly toys with the limits of comedy and pathos. She’s the audience surrogate in many ways, and makes every moment of her screen time count, proving – like the film as a whole – that while laughter is the best medicine, some things aren’t always a laughing matter.

Mandy (2018)

An unrecognizable Riseborough plays the titular character in Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy. The film sees a Manson-esque cult leader with a penchant for LSD summon Slipknot rejects with his demonic conch before terrorising a couple (Nicolas Cage on manic form and Riseborough). Her screentime may not be huge, but she once again makes the most of every scene. The raw emotion she masterfully showcases proves to what extent the role was emotionally demandin. She also ensures that this 80s-riffing psychedelic B-movie has a beating heart and can’t be completely lumped into the midnight screenings-only box. And again, try recognizing her at first. She truly has powers of transformation.

Possessor (2020)

Riseborough flirted with her dark side in Mandy but had the opportunity to fully delve into the psychology of a very damaged character in Brandon Cronenberg’s bloody and mind-bending second film, Possessor. She plays Tasya Vos, an agent who works for a shady cabal that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies. The end game is driving the unwittingly brain-jacked to commit assassinations for high-paying clients. However, something is amiss with this perfect crime technology: Vos seems to be losing touch with reality, her consciousness dangerously melding with that of her latest victim’s. Riseborough skillfully portrays a conflicted person struggling to maintain her own identity and sense of self, and the film truly rests on her performance. It could be her best role to date.

Matilda: The Musical (2022)

Riseborough recently played Matilda’s mum, Mrs. Wormwood, in the 2022 Netflix remake Matilda: The Musical. As per Roald Dahl’s book, Mrs. Wormwood has a particular a disdain for her daughter and Riseborough camps it up for her iteration of the villainous character. Whether it’s her outfits or that subversive blonde wig, she’s a treat to watch and clearly had a blast on set. And again, she manages to take what could seem as a thankless role and not make it one-note. More than that, you can’t take your eyes off her. Which leads us to the key question when it comes to Riseborough: What can’t she do? 

The 2023 Oscars take place on 12 March.

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