Cannes Day 6: Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes Battle for Auteur Supremacy

Critics responded with effusive praise for both “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “May December”

"May December"
"May December" (CREDIT: Getty Images)

Two highly anticipated movies debuted practically back-to-back at Cannes on Saturday, and critics were whipped to a frenzy with praise for them both. Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is easily one of the most anticipated movies of 2023, and with the first trailer having dropped on Thursday, it’s no surprise that the line to get into the theater for the Cannes screening was immense, according to social media.

“Flower Moon” was lauded as another standout for Scorsese, while not being his best ever and the prodigious runtime seemingly was not a problem. Freelance writer Martyn Conterio said, “It’s top tier Marty.” Praise is going out to actress Lily Gladstone, who Discussing Film senior film critic Yasmine Kandil calls “the soul of the film.” IndieWire’s David Ehrlich also gave praise to Leonardo DiCaprio, calling his turn in the feature as “the best performance of his life.” TheWrap’s chief film critic, Tomris Laffly called it “vast and vital in its scale and emotional scope, a Western-thriller that is every bit a Scorsese crime picture as one can dare to imagine.”

During the film’s press conference the director and stars talked about the significance of the story, particularly getting the support of the Osage Nation. Star and executive producer Leonardo DiCaprio said, “It felt like a very important moment, especially how the Osage community embraced us telling this story, gave us the trust in our adaptation of the novel. To have them here with us side-by-side to tell such a personal tragedy to their entire community was a beautiful moment. We took great pride in being able to tell this story as best as we could.”

And Scorsese, according to Screen Daily, also took the time to showcase support for the Ukraine in their on-going war with Russia. “My feeling is, coming from a country that has a republic, which involves free speech – you can have an adversary without poising them or killing them,” Scorsese said. “You don’t want to live like that. We have to support the countries that at least are trying for some sort of democratic process. It reminds me of the 1930s, when democracy was out. Now, it’s deeper and stronger – to do with the very values of how you live.”

A Very Warm “May December”

After the tragedy of Scorsese’s latest, no doubt Todd Haynes’ campy dark comedy “May December” was a welcome change of pace. And based on the early wave of thoughts from attendees, it threatened to completely overshadow Scorsese’s feature. IndieWire’s David Ehrlich proclaimed the film “the best movie that premiered at #Cannes2023 today.” Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times called the film, “Juicy, funny, campy and immediately the most quotable movie of Cannes.” He and Vanity Fair critic Richard Lawson also cited CW-star Charles Melton as a particular standout, comparing him to “Elvis” breakout star, Austin Butler.

While “May December” doesn’t have US distribution yet, no doubt a positive response like this means it won’t be soon behind.


“May December”

“Killers of the Flower Moon”

“Banel & Adama”

“The Breaking Ice”

Check out TheWrap’s Cannes magazine here and all of our Cannes 2023 coverage here.