Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in "Killers of the Flower Moon"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Awards ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ launches Oscar campaign at Cannes

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ launches Oscar campaign at Cannes

Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone in "Killers of the Flower Moon"

The hot ticket at Cannes – Martin Scorsese’s three and a half hour play ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, adapted by the director and Eric Roth from David Grann’s 2017 non-fiction bestseller – was screened ahead of its premiere at festivals on Saturdays in New York and Los Angeles to give critics a head start in writing their reviews. It’s clear why Apple has chosen not to play the film in competition: it’s garnering a bevy of backlash.

Lavishly produced, the $200 million Western crime saga transports the viewer to 1920s Oklahoma, where vast oil fields brought immense wealth to the Osage Nation. While Grann’s book focuses on the procedural aspects of solving the so-called Reign of Terror that has led to dozens of mysterious Osage deaths, Scorsese and Roth create a three-way game centered around Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio’s uncle and nephew (Scorsese regulars bonded for the first time with their favorite director) and Native American actress Lily Gladstone (“Certain Women” by Kelly Reichardt) as Ernest Burkhart’s wise and suspicious Osage wife, Mollie Kyle, who identifies her husband like a “coyote”.

These three actors will dominate Oscar talks at the end of the year. Academy Award winner De Niro (“Raging Bull,” “The Godfather, Part II”) is terrific in a supporting role as William “King” Hale, the charming and relentless master manipulator behind the murders who coaxes his narrow-minded premiere World War II veteran nephew to not only marry the statuesque Kyle, but also to hire servants to carry out the murders of his two sisters, among others, in order to win his family rights.

Two hours into the slow-paced epic, Texas Ranger hero-turned-FBI agent for J. Edgar Hoover, Thomas Bruce White (Jesse Plemons), arrives on the scene with a group of agents who quickly piece together the sordid plot to murder and proceed to trial. . While Roth’s original script, like Grann’s book, played out like a police procedural as White (originally to be played by DiCaprio) solves the complexities of the crime, Roth pivoted to give the Osage more gravitas in the narrative. Oscar winner DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) found the role of Ernest Burkhart, a man who loves a woman while ordering the murder of his family, more complex and fascinating than the FBI man, who could play a white savior. If Plemons then doesn’t have enough screen time to warrant Oscar consideration, DiCaprio is earning kudos for his layered performance as a blind follower who does as he’s told, even if it means poisoning someone he cares deeply about.

Lily Gladstone and Martin Scorsese on the set of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’Apple

Gladstone steals the show. An actress who was about to leave her profession, she holds the screen against two powerful movie stars. In one gripping scene, while Burkhart is awkwardly courting her, a thunderstorm crashes through her house. She wants to keep talking. Kyle tells him to shut up and listen to the storm.

Revered author Scorsese, who certainly could have cut the length of his gangster Western story short, is still expected to end up in Oscar contention for the 15th time. He has been nominated 14 times, nine for Best Director, two shared writing nods with Jay Cocks, and three nominations for Best Picture. He and his Academy Award-winning co-writer Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”) could also get an adapted screenplay slot.

Just like Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ or Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ which garnered ten Oscar nominations, Oscar voters will surely end up singing about the extraordinary skills of ‘Killer Moon’: the director of the three-time nominated cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (“The Irishman,” “The Silence,” “Brokeback Mountain”), three-time winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker (“Scorsese’s The Departed,” “The Aviator” and “Raging Bull”), two-time nominated production designer Jack Fisk (“The Revenant,” “There Will Be Blood”) four-time nominated costume designer Jacqueline West (“Dune,” “The Revenant,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Quills”) and never-named composer Robbie Robertson (Scorsese’s documentary “The Last Waltz”), whose mother was Cayuga and Mohawk.

While the Apple Studios production will see an October theatrical release from Paramount Pictures before it goes online, many Academy voters will end up watching it on the Screening Portal, which is far from an ideal viewing experience for this gripping epic.

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