Yesterday was the last day for Academy members to vote on who will be nominated for this year’s Oscars. The nominations will be announced next Tuesday 23 January.
Over the last week or so, there’s been a big push in support of Ava DuVernay’s Origin. Both the New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter published pieces about Origin and its star, Aunjanue Ellis yesterday.
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor on Why She Had to Be Uncomfortable for Ava DuVernayâ€™s â€˜Originâ€™ https://t.co/QYF7vPpgGh— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) January 16, 2024
See #OriginMovie before anyone elseâ€”early access screenings are taking place tomorrow across the country!— NEON (@neonrated) January 16, 2024
Don't miss Ava DuVernay's "inventive, thought-provoking, and utterly unshakableâ€ film starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor: https://t.co/CLlotpUz8e pic.twitter.com/eG64Pp4j3W
And as you may have heard, a major star pulled up to join the Origin campaign: Angelina Jolie. Prior to that it was Ben Affleck moderating a screening back in December.
And Regina King earlier this month:
Regina King hosted a special screening of Ava DuVernayâ€™s â€˜ORIGINâ€™ starring Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor. pic.twitter.com/FCzz32URY3— Film Updates (@FilmUpdates) January 7, 2024
Angelina hosted Ava and the star of Origin, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, at her home on Sunday. The following day, she too attended another screening and moderated a Q&A in conversation with Ava and Aunjanue:
It was invite-only for the reception at Angelina’s place on Sunday with members from several branches of the Academy in attendance. One of those people, representing the actors branch, was Frances Fisher. I’m singling her out because Frances was one of the more prominent names mentioned last year during the Andrea Riseborough Oscar controversy. You’ll recall, Andrea seemingly came out of nowhere to secure a best actress nomination last year despite a lack of precursor nominations. Up to that point she wasn’t at all in the conversation and then on nomination morning, she was the one nominated instead of Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler, both of whom were actually in the race.
That whole mess resulted in an Academy investigation into lobbying shenanigans as Matthew Belloni, writing for Puck, pointed out at the time:
Matthew Belloni’s Puck newsletter:
“… two actresses of color that were backed by well-funded campaigns by Sony and MGM/Amazon, respectively, and were widely predicted to score honors, yet presumably do not have access to a network of powerful (and, let’s be honest, white) friends in the Academy to campaign for Oscars on their behalf. To some, it was the worst kind of racially-tinged cronyism, where the connections outshined the work.”
Those connections included Frances who was using social media and tagging Oscar voters to appeal on Andrea’s behalf and also Cate Blanchett who actually namechecked Andrea during her acceptance speech at the Critics Choice Awards. Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow were also among the high profile celebrities who hosted screenings on Andrea’s behalf – you can find a full list of stars who were stumping for Andrea here.
This is why, when I’ve written about Greta Lee and her Oscar nomination chances, I’ve wondered about Jennifer Aniston and whether or not she’s giving her The Morning Show co-star the same energy she did for Andrea a year before. And, eventually, she did. But the bigger point here is about the collective and who these largely white celebrities choose to come through for and who they don’t.
Angelina Jolie, though, isn’t of those circles. She’s not part of that sorority. She wasn’t named in the Andrea Riseborough affair last year. Instead, this year, she’s using her platform for Origin, an ambitious film (it opens in wide release this weekend), predicted by many experts to have been more of a presence this award season, but that’s been largely ignored by the Oscar precursors. But where are the other white women? Like I said in the previous paragraph, it was a long ass list for Andrea last year, it was a lot of white women who successfully rallied behind another white woman for a nomination.
This year’s Andrea Riseborough is Origin, a film by a Black female director with a Black lead actress. Will Origin be called on Oscar nomination day? Or does that kind of grassroots effort only pay off for white artists?
Yours in gossip,