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Oscar season is always full of twists and turns, and the biggest one just wrapped up with “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
Variety has exclusively learned that Lily Gladstone’s performance as Mollie Burkhart, the Aboriginal woman at the center of a sinister plot in Martin Scorsese’s crime epic, will be leading the Oscars’ Best Actress campaign instead of supporting what many pundits had speculated. The campaign will be alongside fellow Oscar winner and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio.
Based on David Grann’s 2017 nonfiction film, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI tells the tragic true story of members of the Osage tribe who were murdered under suspicious circumstances during the 1920s.
Read: Varieties The awards circuit for the latest Oscar predictions in every category.
“Killers” is a film that focuses on the indigenous experience, especially in the context of the events that surround it. Scorsese’s intention and mission of the film is to highlight the voices of the Osage people who lived through these horrific events. Gladstone’s role in the awards may have been anything but the campaign will mark a significant milestone with her role at the fore.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where Scorsese, along with his cast including DiCaprio, Gladstone, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons, received a standing ovation from attendees. Gladstone’s work has been groundbreaking in these early days of awards season, and her category surprise mimics that of Michelle Williams in last year’s “The Fabelmans,” who was nominated for a leading role. Co-distributors Apple Original Films and Paramount Pictures hope the 37-year-old sensation can go even further.
Sadly, Aboriginal representation in the Academy has been virtually non-existent in the history of cinema.
Three indigenous women have been nominated for Best Actress – Merle Oberon for “Dark Angel” (1935), Keisha Castle-Hughes for “Whale Rider” (2003) and Yalitza Aparicio for “Roma” (2018). These women are British, Kiwi and Mexican.
In addition to never winning an acting Oscar, the Native American actress has never won a SAG or Critics Choice Award, nor been nominated by those groups.
With Gladstone’s exit from the supporting actress category, that race has been thrown wide open with many prospects hoping to fill her once-filled front-runner spot. With “Killers” tipped to be one of the top-grossers, I also wouldn’t count on any of Gladstone’s native cast to make a play for the actress’ love interest, especially Cara Jade Myers, who plays her sister Anna.
In addition to the Best Picture, Director and Best Actor categories, the film will compete in all categories including Adapted Screenplay (Eric Roth, Scorsese), Production Design (Jack Fisk, Adam Willis), Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto), Costume Design (Jacqueline West), Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), Make-up and Hair (to be announced), Sound (to be announced), Visual Effects (to be announced) and Original Music (the late Robbie Robertson).
in Varieties Peter Debruge writes, “DiCaprio has never gone so far to the dark side, allowing us to watch Ernest work his way through a chilling ‘Gaslight’-esque plot to steal his wife’s fortune.”
Produced by Scorsese, Dan Friedkin, Daniel Lupi and Bradley Thomas, Apple Original Films will release “Killers of the Flowers Moon” exclusively in theaters worldwide on October 20.