If you haven't yet heard about the new, self-funded For Your Consideration ads Melissa Leo has in circulation right now, let me get you up to speed. These:
are the infamous ads that Leo decided to purchase and produce to supplement her For Your Consideration campaign. Leo is nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars to be held later this month, and apparently she doesn't think the general ads for her film, The Fighter, are good enough. In fact, she doesn't even think her performance as bad mother Alice Ecklund is good enough. No, she wants you to consider Melissa Leo, the actress. And I think we should consider exactly how stupid this is.
Leo's reasons for doing the ads isn't a bad one, necessarily: being an older actress, it's difficult for her to get magazine covers, so she wanted to do something that was a bit of a vanity project. It's fun, it's a kick to do, and hey, we're all talking about it. But I think Leo is gonna be shocked at how hard this backfires on her.
While I had never changed my prediction, it seemed after the Screen Actors Guild awards that Leo was the frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actress statuette come the end of this month. I was ready to resign my belief that Amy Adams would come from behind and win...and then this happened. This is a game-changer, even if everyone else is pretending it's not.
The ads themselves would not sink Leo. While it's unorthodox to continue For Your Consideration campaigns after the Oscar nominations have been announced (it comes across a little crass), extra press isn't fundamentally a bad thing. It's the fact that we're all discussing it. None of this is positive for Leo. She should only be getting press for good reasons (think Sandra Bullock and Jeff Bridges last year or Colin Firth and Natalie Portman this year), or have a dynamite performance that can survive limited press (Christoph Waltz) or bad press/reputation (Mo'Nique, Christian Bale). Her performance is solid, if a little on the over-the-top side. But it isn't the kind of performance that can win despite bad press.
It's always possible that Hailee Steinfeld could win instead of Adams with this new weakness (her movie does have ten nominations, after all), but I feel like the categorization issues surrounding the performance, plus her age, will be a major wrench in her Oscar chances. Adams has been nominated thrice in five years, just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman (winner for Capote), Penelope Cruz (winner for Vicky Cristina Barcelona), and George Clooney (winner for Syriana). It's natural to assume this year could very well be Adams' year. These ads and the conversation around them are only going to help her chances.
Leo could still win, though. Let's face it, there have been worse things than some tacky FYC ads to hit other campaigns. But I think it's a lot more destructive than others think. I think this is the opportunity Adams, Steinfeld, and also-rans Jacki Weaver and Helena Bonham Carter needed.
Plus, the ads are just so ridiculous. I feel like she's one milk mustache away from a Got Milk? ad, or she's advertising Bob Mackie's new line for Nordstrom. Seriously, what was she thinking? Do you know? Do you think I'm overestimating these ads' power? Take it to the comments!