Howard Stern, Ms. McCormack’s co-star in the 1997 film “Private Parts,” praised “To Leslie” on his satellite radio show, and the veteran actress Frances Fisher repeatedly posted about it on Instagram, writing on Jan. 14 that voters should select Ms. Riseborough since “Viola, Michelle, Danielle & Cate are a lock for their outstanding work.” Mentioning competitors or their films directly is verboten when campaigning. Voters are also not supposed to be courted directly, without the academy acting as a gatekeeper of sorts.
The specter of rescinding Ms. Riseborough’s nomination has been raised, but one longtime academy member, who discussed internal matters on the condition of anonymity, considered that unlikely since she did not make the direct appeals to voters herself. An acting nomination has never been rescinded, though it has happened in other categories.
Ms. Riseborough declined to comment. Mr. Weinberg did not respond to requests seeking comment from him and Ms. McCormack.
The academy declined to comment for this article, but it released a statement that said, “We are conducting a review of the campaign procedures around this year’s nominees, to ensure that no guidelines were violated, and to inform us whether changes to the guidelines may be needed in a new era of social media and digital communication.”
Oscars campaigning has been a blood sport for decades. The modern Machiavelli for the process was, after all, Harvey Weinstein, who became notorious for bludgeoning would-be voters with parties, screenings and not-so-subtle whisper campaigns.
The process has become only more sophisticated. In 2019, for instance, Netflix rented two soundstages on a historic movie lot in Hollywood to push for “Roma.” The voters who attended “‘Roma’ Experience Day” received breakfast and lunch and there were hours of panel discussions with Alfonso Cuarón, the movie’s director, and his crew.
But there are rules, many of them put into place after Oscar campaigning turned into an entire industry, employing scores of consultants and strategists and generating millions of dollars of revenue for the trade publications that accept “For Your Consideration” advertisements.