The National Board of Review Gala took place this past Thursday night in New York City, and Patti Smith was there to present Lily Gladstone with the Best Actress award for her role in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. It marked the singer’s first public appearance this year since being hospitalized due to “a sudden illness” in Italy last month.
“There’s a lotta you here. It’s a lot easier playing Madison Square Garden. But I’m very excited to be here,” joked Smith, before contextualizing the “abysmal shard of American history” that takes place in the film and Gladstone’s standout performance. “What is more piercing than the face of Lily Gladstone, as the camera captures the shifting tones of her interior process, seamlessly embodying the courageous Mollie Burkhart. Whether off or on screen, like the new moon, she could be felt if not seen.”
Killers of the Flower Moon is based on the 2017 nonfiction book of the same name. Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman living in 1920s Oklahoma faced with an ailing family and the mysterious deaths of her indigenous community members. Additionally, the movie also stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Jesse Plemons as well as musicians Jason Isbell, Jack White, and Sturgill Simpson. It was scored by the late Robbie Robertson of the Band.
Smith was forced to cancel a number of tour dates after entering the hospital in December. “I am resting, as the doctor ordered, grateful to have had such care, though being painfully aware that many are not so fortunate,” she wrote in a post announcing her hospitalization. Upon release, however, Smith went on to play a few shows at the end of 2023, including concerts in Chicago and Brooklyn.
Read Smith’s speech for Gladstone in full below:
At its paramount, the merging of art and activism provides the people with revolutionizing truth, exposing what must be exposed and raising up what must be raised. Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon presents an abysmal shard of American history, confronting our conscience with the collective experience of Indigenous People globally. It pierces the vein of human weakness, greed, cowardice and betrayal. And what is more piercing than the face of Lily Gladstone, as the camera captures the shifting tones of her interior process, seamlessly embodying the courageous Mollie Burkhart. Whether off or on screen, like the new moon, she could be felt if not seen.
Filmmaking is vastly dependent on intense collaboration and all who have taken part in bringing this film to light should be commended. But sometimes an artist must stand alone and draw solely from herself. As Mollie, Lily’s sense of the space around and the rushing energy of her own blood can be felt in every gesture, every side glance, in the lift of her head, in the folding of her hands, in the burgeoning illness, mirroring the afflictions imposed on her people, coupled with her stamina to love, heal and quietly condemn.
Heritage, humor, intelligence, earthy sensuality. She drew from the many aspects of herself, infusing them within her spiritual sister, the Osage woman Mollie Burkhart, with dignity and grace.
It is with great honor that I am here to present the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress to the awesome Lily Gladstone.