Emma Thompson Back in the Oscar Race After ‘Good Luck to You, Leo Grande’ Appeals Academy’s Theaters-Only Rule

Sophie Hyde’s “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, receiving critical acclaim — particularly for its star Emma Thompson — with many calling her a potential Oscars best actress contender. But the British sex comedy, which was acquired by Searchlight Pictures and later released on Hulu June 17, became ineligible when the Academy reverted to its pre-pandemic requirements that a film must have a theatrical release of seven days before debuting on a streaming platform.

However, Variety has now confirmed that Searchlight Pictures formally submitted an appeal to deem the film eligible, and the Academy has approved it for awards consideration. In addition to AMPAS, the film has also been cleared for awards submission by BAFTA (which was already given due to Lionsgate distributing the film in the U.K.), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Producers Guild of America (PGA) and Critics Choice Association (CCA).

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The Academy has been working closely with filmmakers, studios and distributors on matters of eligibility, especially while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not unprecedented that the Academy has accommodated films and studios that base their release plans on the currently published rules for eligibility available at that time. Searchlight announced that the film would debut on Hulu in March, before the Academy’s announcement about going back to pre-pandemic rules.

This provides an interesting query regarding Hulu’s other hit titles, like the rom-com “Fire Island” from Andrew Ahn and the sci-fi horror flick “Prey” from Dan Trachtenberg, which Hulu announced as its most viewed piece of content among all TV series and movies. While “Fire Island” and “Prey” are not your traditional awards flair projects that AMPAS voters typically go for, the blurred lines between film and TV are becoming increasingly unclear. For example, what constitutes a “movie release” versus a “TV movie?” “Prey” bolsters luscious cinematography by Jeff Cutter with its breakout Indigenous star Amber Midthunder delivering another example of a stunning action-genre performance that joins the ranks of Sigourney Weaver in “Aliens” (1986) and Charlize Theron in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015). We can only hope Academy members would be so inventive as to embrace such a film, which stands as the fifth installment in the “Predator” franchise.

But “Prey” and “Fire Island” were made for the Hulu streaming platform, and hence are not eligible for Oscars this year, nor will Searchlight be seeking a similar appeal. However, they will be eligible for Emmy consideration in 2023.

Thompson is already an Oscar winner for best actress for “Howard’s End” (1992). She has received four other subsequent nominations, including double acting noms for “The Remains of the Day” (1993) and “In the Name of the Father” (1993), and another pair of dual mentions for acting in and writing “Sense and Sensibility” (1995), winning her second statuette for adapted screenplay. However, despite other critically-lauded performances in films such as “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006) and “Saving Mr. Banks” (2013), she hasn’t been invited back to the ceremony in nearly 30 years.

Is that about to change? Variety Awards Circuit has updated the predictions for best actress, where Thompson sits in the top 10 with Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), Viola Davis (“The Woman King”) and Cate Blanchett (“TÁR”).

“Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” is produced by Debbie Gray and Adrian Politowski from a screenplay by Katy Brand.

The Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 24, 2023, with the 95th ceremony scheduled for March 12, 2023.

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