Last week’s Oscar nominations brought the usual sprinkles of controversy over snubs, but one nominee drew audible gasps. That would be Andrea Riseborough, who rose to the top of the crop for her To Leslie performance, which was propelled by a handful of Academy members, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Winslet. Receiving a Best Actress nod due to a groundswell from famous friends feels a little odd to call a “grassroots” campaign, but it qualifies compared to the millions of dollars that studios pour into “for your consideration” campaigns every year.
Well, the Academy wasn’t pleased by this turn of events. They decided to mull over whether Riseborough could keep her nomination, and she will do so, but they’re going to do a deeper probe into procedure. One of Riseborough’s To Leslie co-stars, Marc Maron, called out the Academy on his WTF podcast because Riseborough’s campaign “so threatens their system that they’re completely bought out by corporate interests in the form of studios.” Well, there is one Hollywood voice who’s willing to publicly support the investigation, and that would be Lil Rel Howery. He did so while speaking with Vulture’s Into It podcast and explicitly stating, “I’m into the Academy investigating it.”
Via IndieWire, he also used the opportunity to raise eyebrows about Ana de Arma’s Best Actress nod for Blonde. At first, Howery appeared to not want to mention de Armas by name, but he gave the actress away by pointing out that he did Deep Water with this person. He also mentioned Ana’s Razzies nomination for the same role, so yeah, he’s definitely questioning the de Armas nomination:
“Somebody else should have got bumped. I’m not going to say anything, but it’s a movie nominated as a Razzie. [The Oscar nomination] doesn’t make sense to me… It’s just, and that’s somebody I did film with. I did ‘Deep Water’ with her, with Ben Affleck. Amazing. I’m just talking about the Academy. What are y’all doing? Come on, fam. For real?”
Howery asserted that he’s “just talking about the Academy,” but he could be tossing a barb towards Ana (the Razzies mention feels like one) as well. However, he also said this of the Academy’s outrage over Riseborough’s nod: “I hate that’s the only investigation the Academy has because I feel like, even though they keep telling us the members are diverse, I don’t believe it.”
In addition, Howery declared that he’d prefer that Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) would have been nominated. He elaborated: “It’s just very unfortunate that we keep — and just being honest, especially as Black people, we want to be recognized by the Academy so bad because we know what it does for our bag.” He also added, “Are we ever going to get that due?”
The Oscars air on Sunday, March 12 on ABC. Surely, this controversy will not be forgotten by go time.