Best Supporting Actress. It's a category that's notorious for being a wild card race and now one of its nominees has become just that -- a wild card.
Melissa Leo, who has all but swept the awards season thus far (including victories at the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards) for her work in "The Fighter," has quite possibly gone from front-runner to question mark with a self-promoted campaign.
Late last week, Leo released two Hollywood trade ads on her own (sources say "The Fighter's" distributors Paramount and Relativity had no idea about the move), one in which she wears a black, sequined gown, in the other a large, white faux-fur coat. Both ads simply read, "Consider..."
Deadline asked the 50-year-old star why she opted to go rogue so close to Oscar night. Leo explained to the website about her decision, "I took matters into my own hands. I knew what I was doing and told my representation how earnest I was about this idea. I had never heard of any actor taking out an ad as themselves and I wanted to give it a shot."
Leo, who is vying for an Oscar for the second time in her career, also brought up her feelings on Hollywood ageism towards women and said she was upset that throughout the success of "The Fighter" she didn't land on a single magazine cover. While Leo says she's "quite certain I have not overstepped any boundaries of the Academy," she went on to add, "All I ask of Hollywood is they consider Melissa Leo. If you want to hire me, give me a shout."
So, was it simply a final push towards Oscar or a polarizing moment-killer? Many have predicted that a last minute surge from her competitors, particularly "True Grit" breakout Hailee Steinfeld, could knock Leo out of her front-runner status. Will these nice-enough-looking, but undeniably bizarre (admit it, you thought they were mock ads, too) photos be the thing that does just that? Or, strange campaign or not, does Leo simply have this thing locked down for her excellent turn as boxer mom Alice Ward?
Meanwhile, if you're hoping to get an even closer look at Leo and all of this year's nominees on Oscar night, you're in luck. AdAge has reported that, in an attempt to draw in younger viewers, the Academy (with the help of Pixar chief John Lasseter) is offering unparalleled access via live-streaming on Oscar.com.
For $4.99, curious Oscar fanatics will have all their bases covered, from the red carpet to behind-the-scenes moments not typically seen on television (including the press room, where winners get to make additional thank-yous.) ABC, the network which will broadcast the 83rd Annual Academy Awards live on February 27, will also dispatch about 20 to 30 cameras for live streaming coverage at Oscar.com, and digital chief Albert Chang is calling it "the biggest live-streaming event ever."
What do you think of Melissa Leo's self-promotion for Oscar: cool or kooky? Will you pay to watch the live-stream of the behind-the-scenes action at the Academy Awards? Let us know in the comments section and on Twitter!