Nobody expected Joker to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Up to that point, Todd Phillips’ movie had been picking up some buzz due to its Martin Scorsese connection and positive reports of Joaquin Phoenix’s performance. After its big win though, things went a bit nuts, resulting in a strange backlash against the film prior to its release. All that publicity turned out to be a boon for the pic though, which has just become the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time and may yet crack the $1 billion mark.
Now, as was expected, Warner Bros has ambitions for awards season. In fact, they’ve just launched their campaign with a pair of posters, which you can check out below:
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Both one-sheets put Joker forward as a candidate for Best Picture, with suggestions that it should also be considered for Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Notable for its absence though is any encouragement for Academy voters to consider Joaquin Phoenix as Best Actor, but perhaps this goes without saying given the near-universal praise he’s received.
But is Joker in with a chance? Well, it’s certainly one of the most talked-about movies of 2019 and, in my opinion, neatly captures the febrile mood at the moment. I also think the early negative press (from writers who hadn’t actually seen the film that they were saying was dangerous) won’t count for much, as it’ll be long forgotten by the time voting comes around. There may be some pushback from voters who paid attention to the silly tit-for-tat arguments about whether comic-book movie are cinema or not, but given that they’re trying to broaden the scope of the Academy members, who knows how much of an impact that’ll have?
My bet is that Joker will definitely see nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor, but on the night will walk away with a couple of technical awards rather than the big gongs. However, if it’s going to pick up a significant honor, it’ll be for Best Actor, as even people who hated the film as a whole can’t criticize Phoenix’s astonishing transformation into Arthur Fleck. Plus, he arguably deserved a win for Walk the Line and The Master, so he’s overdue a statue. Beyond that, we’ll see how it does in the BAFTAs and the Golden Globes. Fingers crossed, Joker fans.