How ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ made history at the Oscars

The 96th Academy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday, January 28, 2024, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Among the many films that competed for the coveted golden statuettes, one stood out for its historical significance and critical acclaim: ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Lily Gladstone.

A film based on a true story

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is an epic western crime drama that tells the story of the Osage murders, a series of killings that targeted the members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma in the 1920s, after oil was discovered on their land. The film is based on the 2017 non-fiction book by David Grann, which exposes the conspiracy and corruption that led to the deaths of hundreds of Osage people and the involvement of the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the case.

The film was shot in and around Osage County, Oklahoma, in 2021, with the cooperation and consultation of the Osage Nation. The film features authentic Osage language and culture, as well as historical details and locations. The film also explores the themes of greed, racism, violence, and justice, as well as the personal and emotional struggles of the characters.

A film that broke records and barriers

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design. The film won four awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Film Editing.

The film made history in several ways:

Apple’s Killers of the Flower Moon

  • It was the first film produced by Apple TV+ to win an Oscar, as well as the first film distributed by both Paramount Pictures and Apple Original Films.
  • It was the sixth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio, the tenth between Scorsese and De Niro, and the second between Scorsese and both actors, making them one of the most prolific and successful director-actor teams in Hollywood history.
  • It was the second Oscar for Scorsese, who previously won for ‘The Departed’ in 2007, and the second for DiCaprio, who previously won for ‘The Revenant’ in 2016. It was the first nomination and win for Gladstone, who became the first Native American to be nominated and win for Best Actress, as well as the first Indigenous performer to win an acting Oscar in any category.
  • It was the longest film to win Best Picture, with a runtime of 206 minutes, surpassing the previous record held by ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939), which had a runtime of 238 minutes but was shown with an intermission.
  • It was the first film to win Best Picture with a predominantly Native American cast and crew, as well as the first film to win Best Picture with a female composer, Scott George, who is also a member of the Osage Nation.

A film that received rave reviews and audience appreciation

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ was widely praised by critics and audiences alike, who lauded the film’s direction, screenplay, performances, cinematography, editing, score, and production values. The film also received accolades from various film festivals and awards ceremonies, such as the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered and received a standing ovation, the Golden Globe Awards, where it won Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Actress – Drama, and the British Academy Film Awards, where it was nominated for nine awards, including Best Film.

The film was also a commercial success, grossing over $156 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2023 and the highest-grossing film of Scorsese’s career. The film was also a hit on Apple TV+, where it was streamed by millions of subscribers, breaking the platform’s records for viewership and engagement.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ is a film that not only entertained and enlightened the audiences, but also honored and celebrated the history and culture of the Osage Nation, as well as the art and craft of filmmaking. It is a film that will be remembered and revered for years to come.

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