A First at the 2024 Golden Globes: Lily Gladstone wins Best Actress

This Golden Globe Award for “Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” went to actress Lily Gladstone for her role as Mollie Burkhart in Killers of the Flower Moon. Directed by Martin Scorsese, Killers is based on a true story. In a book with the same title, author David Grann goes into a forgotten part of early 20th-century history, where a family of Osage Indians were slowly poisoned by those after the oil under Osage land. 

This was Gladstone’s first Golden Globe nomination and win, beating out fellow nominees Annette Benning, Carey Mulligan, Sandra Hüller, Greta Lee, and Cailee Spaeny. Other than being recognized for her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, Gladstone is the first Native American actress to win a Golden Globe overall, and second to be nominated (following Irene Bedard). Her speech directly ties in with this accolade:

“This award belongs to…and I hope I don’t get counted down as this is a historic one…I’m so grateful that I can speak even a little bit of my language, which I’m not fluent in, up here … .This is a historic win. It doesn’t belong to just me, I’m holding it right now, holding it with all my beautiful sisters in the film, at this table over here — my mother Tantoo Cardinal, standing on all of your shoulders.” – Lily Gladstone 

Gladstone herself is not a newcomer. Her first role was in Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, released in 2012. Since then, she’s appeared on both stage and screen, recently guest-starring in Hulu’s critically acclaimed Reservation Dogs. 

Her performance in Killers is regarded as one of the highlights of the film. When starring aside the likes of Robert DeNiro (William Hale) and Leo DiCaprio (Ernest Burkhart), this is no easy feat. In their review of the film, Variety writes, “…In so many ways, though, this is Lily Gladstone’s movie.” 

Scorsese was committed to making the film not about the early FBI, but more so about the people, especially the Osage, affected by the actions of Hale and Burkhart. Gladstone’s performance is magnified by the fact that there is a sense of irony when watching this film. Those in the audience who are aware of the real-life story watch in horror as Mollie Burkhart falls in love with the man trying to kill her. What is more tragic than that? 

Despite seven nominations, including “Best Director- Motion Picture” and “Best Motion Picture- Drama”, her win was the only win for Killers last Sunday. It is also up for 14 Critics Choice Awards and is a potential Oscar favorite. Oscar nominations come out January 24th, so it will be interesting to see if Gladstone will also make history by becoming the first Native American woman to be nominated for an acting Oscar, and in March, to see if she will become the first Native American woman to win it.