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Oscar season is known for its surprises, and one of the biggest twists this year involves “Killers of the Flower Moon.” In an exclusive report by Variety, it has been revealed that Lily Gladstone, who portrays Mollie Burkhart, an Indigenous woman central to the plot of Martin Scorsese’s crime epic, will campaign for the Oscars in the Best Actress category, contrary to earlier speculations that she might compete in the Supporting Actress category. She will share the campaign with her co-star and executive producer, Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.
Based on David Grann’s non-fiction book from 2017, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” the film recounts the tragic true story of Osage tribe members who were suspiciously murdered during the 1920s.
“Killers” is a film that strongly focuses on the Indigenous experience, particularly within the historical context it portrays. Scorsese’s goal with the film is to amplify the voices of the Osage people who endured these harrowing events. Lily Gladstone’s role could have gone either way in terms of awards recognition, but her campaign in the Best Actress category signifies a significant milestone.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received an enthusiastic standing ovation from attendees, including Scorsese, DiCaprio, Gladstone, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons. Early on, Gladstone’s performance became a frontrunner in the awards season, reminiscent of Michelle Williams in last year’s “The Fabelmans,” who eventually received a Best Actress nomination. Apple Original Films and Paramount Pictures, the co-distributors of the film, are hopeful that the 37-year-old sensation can go even further in her awards journey.
Unfortunately, Indigenous representation within the Academy Awards has been severely lacking throughout cinema history. Only three Indigenous women have ever been nominated for Best Actress: Merle Oberon for “The Dark Angel” (1935), Keisha Castle-Hughes in “Whale Rider” (2003), and Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma” (2018). Notably, these actresses are British, Kiwi, and Mexican, respectively. An Indigenous actress from the United States has never won an acting Oscar, nor have they received nominations from groups like SAG or Critics Choice.
With Lily Gladstone’s shift from the Supporting Actress category, the race in that category has opened up, with several potential contenders vying for her previously held frontrunner status. Given the anticipation surrounding “Killers,” it’s also possible that Gladstone’s Indigenous co-stars, particularly Cara Jade Myers, who plays her sister Anna, could receive recognition in acting categories.
In addition to Best Picture and directing, the film will compete in various categories, including adapted screenplay (Eric Roth, Scorsese), production design (Jack Fisk, Adam Willis), cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto), costume design (Jacqueline West), film editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), makeup and hairstyling (to be announced), sound (to be announced), visual effects (to be announced), and original score (the late Robbie Robertson).
Variety’s review by Peter Debruge highlights DiCaprio’s compelling performance, noting that he delves into a darker character in a “Gaslight”-style plot to secure his wife’s fortune.
Produced by Scorsese, Dan Friedkin, Daniel Lupi, and Bradley Thomas, Apple Original Films is set to release “Killers of the Flower Moon” exclusively in theaters worldwide on October 20th.