Joaquin Phoenix has had a storied career thus far. He’s been nominated for three Academy Awards for Gladiator, Walk the Line, and The Master, all of which showed off his range and versatility onscreen. Over the years, the actor has established himself as one of the go-to men in Hollywood for nuanced and impassioned performances. Despite his impressive filmography thus far though, some believe that audiences still haven’t seen the best that the 44-year-old has to offer. In fact, according to Cameron Bailey, the upcoming Joker will show moviegoers a glimpse of Phoenix at his all-time best.
Those are definitely some strong words from the artistic director for the Toronto International Film Festival. The prestigious event has already shown how they feel about the pic by deciding to include it in their line-up, as the rare insertion of a comic book movie into their gala clearly shows that this film goes beyond the typical superhero/villain feature.
In Bailey’s own words:
“It’s an original story, not part of the existing canon. It does take the character and a lot of the elements that we know from Joker’s backstory. But it’s an original story that allows the filmmakers to go in an original direction. It’s got some real dark tones to it, but it’s just grounded in this career-best career performance by Joaquin Phoenix. I think all the awards bodies will be taking notice.”
It sounds like he’s expecting the actor to get yet another Oscar nomination for Joker and if it lives up to all of the hype, it’s possible he could even finally walk away with the gold. While it’s rare for any performer to win an Academy Award for their performance in a comic book movie, Heath Ledger posthumously pulled it off back in 2009 for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
Living up to the lofty precedent set by the late legend will undoubtedly be tough, though. Jared Leto can certainly attest to that. But if Phoenix can come even close to what Ledger did onscreen a decade ago, there will certainly be some deserving Oscar buzz surrounding him. If not, then he’ll have some very angry fans to deal with after opening weekend.
We’ll find out which way things go when Joker hits theaters on October 4th, 2019.