In a minor surprise, a 2024 Best Supporting Actress frontrunner has decided to submit for the exceedingly more difficult lead category, Best Actress. As leaked, er, reported by Variety, Lily Gladstone will now compete for Best Actress for her performance in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Previously a lock for a nomination in the Supporting Actress field, she’s now at risk of being shut out in one of the most competitive races this Oscar season. We’ve been informed that this was Gladstone’s individual choice as the female lead in the film.
Gladstone, who earned strong reviews when “Killers” premiered at Cannes, now enters a field with already one guaranteed nominee, Emma Stone (“Poor Things”). She’ll join legit contenders Sandra Fuller (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Natalie Portman (“May December”), Margot Robbie (“Barbie”), Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”), Annette Bening (“Nyad”), Greta Lee (“Past Lives”), Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“Origin”) and Venice Film Festival Best Actress winner, Cailee Spaeny (“Priscilla”), in battling for the remaining four slots. Oh, and there is one last potential nominee who hasn’t been screened yet, the buzz-worthy Fantasia Barrino, who is reprising her Broadway role in “The Color Purple.”
Potentially also in the Best Actress race is recent Tony Award winner and “The Bikeriders” star Jodie Comer but at this point, she’ll smartly stay in Supporting Actress (at least we hope she and her team are smart enough to make that decision).
If Gladstone manages a Best Actress nomination, she’ll be just the fourth Indigenous actress to do so following Merle Oberon (“The Dark Angel”), Keisha Castle-Hughes (“Whale Rider”), and, most recently, Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”). If theatrical distributor Paramount Pictures and Apple Studios can turn “Killers” into a legit box office hit, Gladstone’s chances of cracking the field increase exponentially.
Moreover, complicating the Best Actress race in particular is the fact four of the contenders, Huller, Ellis-Taylor, Spaney and Lee, are featured in films that – in theory – should qualify for a SAG waiver. Huller was already at the Telluride Film Festival and appears to be set to work the festival circuit in the months ahead. It’s unclear if the other three actresses will hit the campaign trail (optics are going to be a thing).
Gladstone’s category switch opens things up a bit in the Supporting Actress race, but it’s still a ruthless showdown to land a nom. The expected frontrunner is Danielle Brooks, who is also reprising her Broadway and Tony Award-winning performance in “The Color Purple.” Likely nominees include Emily Blunt (“Oppenheimer”), and Julianne Moore (“May December”). Battling to round out the field are the aforementioned Comer, Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”), Jodie Foster (“Nyad”), Claire Foy (“All of Us Strangers”), Viola Davis (“Air”), Rosamund Pike (“Saltburn”), Taraji P. Henson (“The Color Purple”), Penelope Cruz (“Ferrari”), Anne Hathaway (“Eileen”), America Ferrara (“Barbie”) and, once again, Huller (“Zone of Interest”), among others.
Screenings of many of these films have been taking place in Los Angeles for non-WGA and SAG guild members since Venice and Telluride wrapped almost two weeks ago. The season will shift to the East Coast with contenders such as “Poor Things,” “Maestro,” “All of Us Strangers,” “May December,” “Zone of Interest” and “Anatomy of a Fall” screening at the 2023 New York Film Festival beginning September 29.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” opens nationwide on Oct. 20