Whether Lily Gladstone decides to campaign for or support the lead actress (and there’s a case for either), a spot in the lineup will be reserved for her. That’s because her powerful, complex role in Apple Original Films’ Killers of the Flower Moon, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on a rainy Saturday night, can’t be ignored.
Gladstone delivers an uncompromising portrayal as Molly, an indigenous woman whose family and tribal community are being murdered by a vicious group of white men, driven by their thirst for greed and power. It’s a superpower.
It became clear about 10 minutes into Martin Scorsese’s epic adaptation of David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction book The Venus Moon Killers: The Odyssey Murders and the Birth of the FBI that the audience was witnessing the birth of a star.
The film tells the tragic true story of members of the Osage tribe, who were murdered under mysterious circumstances during the 1920s. The events sparked a major investigation that led to the birth of the FBI under the direction of J.J. Edgar Hoover.
At the center is Molly Gladstone, along with her husband Ernest (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and uncle “The King” (played by Robert De Niro in his best performance in over a decade).
When it comes to Gladstone, 36, the truth is that she has already shown impressive range with an impressive body of work. These include 2013’s “Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of Plain Indians” and 2020’s “First Cow.” In fact, I think she should have already received an Oscar statuette for her supporting actress for her brilliant role in the 2020 multi-narrative drama. 2016 by Kelly Richardt “Defined Women”.
Indigenous representation in the Academy (and Hollywood) has been virtually non-existent in the history of cinema. Assuming her supporting actress (as critics including Variety have been tracking her), she would be the second Indigenous actress ever nominated in the category after Jocelyne LaGarde for 1966’s Hawaii. She’s long overdue (and maybe the first ever winner?).
When it comes to Scorsese’s frequent collaborators – DiCaprio and DeNiro – expect to see them in the mix for another trip around the awards circuit.
DiCaprio, who won Best Actor for “The Revenant,” has never played a character this weird. A favorite in the actors branch, if he were ignored, it would be because of the villainous nature of the real-life man he portrayed, which could alienate voters. It will have nothing to do with the quality.
Ditto for DeNiro, who chews up the spectacle with a villainous tweak, his wildest turn since 1991’s “Cape Fear.” A two-time winner for “Raging Bull” (1980) and “The Godfather Part II” (1974). Much like Ralph Fiennes’ nominated role as a Nazi leader in “Schindler’s List,” there is such a thing as being “too evil” for voters.
Jesse Plemons, who plays Agent Tom White, is the main character in the book. However, he takes a huge back seat to the tale, and has no screen time to appear (unless the Academy drops itself with nominations). The Oscar-nominated actor for “The Power of the Dog” doesn’t appear on screen until nearly two and a half hours into the story. Brendan Fraser, last year’s Best Actor winner, arrived in just the last 20 minutes or so.
Scorsese’s shot at winning his second Academy Award for directing — after Best Picture winner 2006’s “The Departed” — has increased considerably. At 80, the director-director, along with co-writer Eric Roth, respectfully maneuver the difficult subject matter. That would put them on the table for what already sounds like a jam-packed altered scenario race (it comes after “The Zone of Interest”).
Rodrigo Prieto will be seeing his first win in cinematography after starring in the films “Brokeback Mountain,” “Silence,” and “The Irishman.”
Three-time winner and editing legend Thelma Schoonmaker will be an interesting piece of the awards puzzle to watch closely. Based on initial reactions, even those who liked the movie were candid about its solid runtime. You could be the “wrong person” if that becomes a growing consensus. For now, I feel the film only works because of its epic scope, demanding audiences witness the disgusting horror of physical and cultural genocide, which is still occurring more than 500 years after Christopher Columbus robbed America of its rightful inhabitants.
Best Picture will be a viable option for your streamer. The biggest hurdle will be maintaining the hype and noise for the next 10 months.
No matter the outcome, Gladstone can (and should) at least carry the Oscar torch for this flawless motion picture.