Will Joker Controversy Affect Joaquin Phoenix's Shot at His First Oscar?

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#1  Edited By Master_Live
Member since 2004 • 19829 Posts

https://variety.com/2019/film/news/joaquin-phoenix-joker-oscar-chance-1203362204/

An excerpt:

It’s official: “Joker” is a hit. The provocative Todd Phillips-directed Warner Bros. film, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic DC Comics villain, had the biggest October weekend opening box office ever, with $93.5 million in ticket sales.

There was never a doubt that “Joker” would earn big bucks, but awards season recognition remains an open question.

As soon as the first trailer dropped in April, a chorus of praise was heaped upon Phoenix. The clip may only have been two minutes and 24 seconds long, but the glimpse of the actor as the clown-faced killer with a psycho laugh was met with Insta-predictions that Phoenix would secure his fourth Oscar nomination.

Since then, Warner Bros. staged the film’s world premiere in Venice, where it received an eight-minute standing ovation and picked up the Golden Lion. A few days later, the North American debut at the Toronto Film Festival earned Phoenix similar accolades.

The overall consensus seemed to be that even if the film was too dark and violent to truly enjoy, Phoenix’s performance alone was worthy of Oscar recognition.

However, controversy soon engulfed the movie: A group of family members and friends of victims of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater during a “Dark Knight Rises” screening in 2012 wrote to Warner Bros., requesting that the studio counter the gruesome “Joker” brutality by donating to groups that help victims of gun violence. The group also asked the studio not to support political candidates who accept money from the NRA. In response, Warner Bros. issued a statement condemning real-world violence while also insisting it does not consider Joker a hero.

The studio quickly sheltered Phillips and his cast from the media when it turned the movie’s Los Angeles red carpet premiere into a photo-only event and did the same for its New York Film Festival screening.

Just days before opening weekend, AMC Theatres and Landmark Theatres announced the ban of costumes and masks during “Joker” screenings. The Los Angeles Police Dept. declared it would increase its visibility around cinemas during opening weekend. In New York City, a young man was escorted out of a screening in Times Square when he began applauding during on-screen murders.

How any of this affects the awards season prospects for “Joker” is yet to be seen, but the film is going to be a tough sell to Academy voters.

First, no matter how much Phillips and company rightly insist it’s not a traditional superhero movie, it was born of the DC Comics universe. Superhero movies have had very little success at the Oscars. The first time a live-action superhero film earned a best picture nomination was last year, when Ryan Coogler’s “The Black Panther” roared onto the scene. Even so, the film failed to pick up any acting noms.

The only superhero acting nomination in Oscar history went to Heath Ledger, who won posthumously for his role as the Joker in 2008’s “The Dark Knight.”

As for violent films, there have been Oscar noms as well as some wins. Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” earned a best picture nom in 1972, as did “Deliverance” the following year. “Taxi Driver,” Martin Scorsese’s classic New York drama about antihero Travis Bickle, which Phillips says was a major inspiration for “Joker,” was nominated for best picture in 1977. Jonathan Demme’s “The Silence of the Lambs” not only grossed more than $272 million worldwide against its $19 million budget but also took home five Oscars in 1992 for best pic, director, actor (Anthony Hopkins), actress (Jodie Foster) and adapted screenplay (Ted Tally).

But that was then, and this is 2019. Mass shootings are now far-too-frequent occurrences, and the gun control debate continues to be a dominant political talking point. Active-shooter drills are part of many school curricula.

Almost all of the Academy voters I’ve spoken with praise Phoenix’s performance. “He’s brilliant,” one says. As the lights went up after the New York Film Festival premiere, I heard more praise than disapproval.

At the same time, voters appear to be resistant to rewarding the actor. It’s not because they don’t think his work is worthy; they just don’t like the idea that their vote could come off like an endorsement of violence.

During a panel discussion after the NYFF premiere, Phillips argued that his film’s depiction of real-world violence is more “responsible” than the “cartoon element of violence that we’ve become so immune to.”

He also said he believes the controversy wouldn’t “hurt the movie.” He added, “It probably has helped, and it’s good to have people talking.”

Talking may lead to stronger ticket sales, but it’s that same talking that could be the film’s undoing at the Oscars.

Films don't need any validation aside from whether audiences enjoyed them or not, but it is nice to get awards, isn't it?

This right here is what grinds my gears:

At the same time, voters appear to be resistant to rewarding the actor. It’s not because they don’t think his work is worthy; they just don’t like the idea that their vote could come off like an endorsement of violence.

The fact that Phoenix may have the best performance on the merits (everything is subjective) but may not win because of virtue signaling.

I guess that if the Academy's legs wobble then Joker may only get 1 nomination, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Phoenix, and nothing more or, at worst, get shut out completely.

I have not seen many 2019 films, don't know if Joaquin has the best performance, but I doubt there are 5 better performances in a leading role this year.

Or maybe the Academy puts on its happy face and I could see nominations for (aside from Phoenix's) Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography and Makeup & Hairstyling.

It would be a surprise (at least to me) if it got nominated for Best Picture and/or Best Director.

Plus there is the fact that it is easier if you can "do the rounds in the circuit" and rub shoulders with the insiders which isn't something I see Phoenix doing (he always have seen to me as standoffish) and director Todd Phillips has already been on the defensive regarding the brouhaha the film elicited before its release.

So what say you OT, does Joker deserves any recognition from the Academy and if so, will it get it?

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#2 uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 36135 Posts

The Oscars is desperate for credibility, and the public (not the lefty critics) love it.

Wouldn't be surprised if they pander to try get more people watching.

Unrelated -

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#3 HoolaHoopMan
Member since 2009 • 11036 Posts

There have always been movies that pushed the envelope or covered unsavory themes. Judge the actor based on their merits of acting. I haven't seen the movie but I can't imagine it covers stuff that's darker than anything in the last 100 years, reason being why A Clockwork Orange was listed.

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#4 Hallenbeck77  Moderator  Online
Member since 2005 • 15816 Posts

It just seems like the movie is early pandering for an Oscar right from the jump, regardless if the violence or tone.

To be fair, I haven't seen it so I can't fairly judge--it's just some observation.

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#5  Edited By uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 36135 Posts

@HoolaHoopMan said:

There have always been movies that pushed the envelope or covered unsavory themes. Judge the actor based on their merits of acting. I haven't seen the movie but I can't imagine it covers stuff that's darker than anything in the last 100 years, reason being why A Clockwork Orange was listed.

The movies violence is nothing out of the ordinary.

It's really successful at an increasing sense of dread that makes the violence impactful when the bottle-cap pops off, alot of that is down to Phoenix making the character seem so passive and introvert at the start.

It's been massively blown up, unnecessarily, acting as great promotion than turning people away.

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#6  Edited By Ezekiel43
Member since 2017 • 1980 Posts

I wish people would stop talking about the Oscars. Why should any of us care what some badly chosen panel thinks?

@uninspiredcup said:

TUnrelated -

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#7  Edited By uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 36135 Posts

@ezekiel43: Matt Stone And Trey Parker gave it the respect it deserves when they turned up high as a kite in drag.

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#8 Master_Live
Member since 2004 • 19829 Posts

Out of the films mentioned in the article, I would rank them in terms of how uneasy they made me feel like this:

  1. Taxi Driver
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Silence of the Lambs
  4. Joker

*Never seen Deliverance.

There has been something that I have always found unsettling about Taxi Driver that I can't pinpoint. Out of what are considered Scorsese's masterpieces it is the one I like the least.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The thing I found most unsettling about Joker was the laughing condition (called or based on the pseudobulbar affect). It made empathize with Arthur and Phoenix seemed to modulate the condition in levels, where each time he laughed Arthur seemed to progressively feel more pain.

***SPOILERS END***

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#9 uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 36135 Posts

@Master_Live said:

Out of the films mentioned in the article, I would rank them in terms of how uneasy they made me feel like this:

  1. Taxi Driver
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Silence of the Lambs
  4. Joker

*Never seen Deliverance.

There has been something that I have always found unsettling about Taxi Driver that I can't pinpoint. Out of what are considered Scorsese's masterpieces it is the one I like the least.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The thing I found most unsettling about Joker was the laughing condition (called or based on the pseudobulbar affect). It made empathize with Arthur and Phoenix seemed to modulate the condition in levels, where each time he laughed Arthur seemed to progressively feel more pain.

***SPOILERS END***

He does a great job with his eyes as well. The final scene, which has audience in the cinema cheering, counter to that grin his eyes are glazed over in turmoil. Little touches as well like staring off into the void and blinking slower.

Regarding Silence Of The Lambs, I always found Buffalo Bill scarier than Doctor Lecture, like Arthur Fleck, he wasn't some mastermind villains, he seemed like someone real who could exist, and (obviously) was based off someone real. Lecture is barely in the movie, something like 10 minutes.

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#10 mrbojangles25
Member since 2005 • 44845 Posts

I wonder if it ever occurs to people...

...that the "controversy" is the freaking point. It makes you question things, pushes the envelope, and so on.

Concerning the Oscars, who gives a damn? I mean the actors and people that work on it, sure, everyone likes acknowledgement, but seriously it's a bunch of agenda-peddling lame-asses doing the judging.

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#11 Serraph105
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It was about a year or two ago when I realized that I hadn't seen a single movie nominated for the Oscar's best picture award that year and no longer cared what they were covering. I still watched tons of movies and had a great time doing so, but it was stuff like Star Wars, The Avengers, animated movies that would never get the nod in a million years, and comedies that are designed to make me laugh as opposed to make me take a hard look at the world.

Meanwhile everything the Oscars seemed to nominate were dramas that were incredibly serious and make you go through an absolute slog of emotions that ranged from sad to serious so finally get to a sort of happy ending. That's not to say they're bad movies, just that they're not what I want to sit down to and put myself through after I get off work or during my time on a weekend.

The point is, don't worry about how a movie or an actor will get awarded for their work, just enjoy it for what it is, you don't need your experience validated by people you've never met and are generally into movies that you don't have an interest it. The actor doesn't need it either, especially when their movies break box office records (as Joker has) and receive tons of buzz.

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#12  Edited By Master_Live
Member since 2004 • 19829 Posts

That's what's interesting this year, some popular-ish films may get nominated (and probably deserving so) like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, The Irishman and maybe Joker.

If Pacino gets nominated I might *gulp* actually watch the ceremony this year.

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#13  Edited By johnd13
Member since 2011 • 9826 Posts

I hope not. He was amazing as the Joker. But I wouldn't put it past the "Oscar voters" to turn a blind eye to his performance in order to keep appearances.

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#14 DaVillain-  Moderator
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@Master_Live said:

Out of the films mentioned in the article, I would rank them in terms of how uneasy they made me feel like this:

  1. Taxi Driver
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. The Silence of the Lambs
  4. Joker

*Never seen Deliverance.

There has been something that I have always found unsettling about Taxi Driver that I can't pinpoint. Out of what are considered Scorsese's masterpieces it is the one I like the least.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

The thing I found most unsettling about Joker was the laughing condition (called or based on the pseudobulbar affect). It made empathize with Arthur and Phoenix seemed to modulate the condition in levels, where each time he laughed Arthur seemed to progressively feel more pain.

***SPOILERS END***

I'm surprise you didn't list Robert Downey Jr cause Disney is pushing him for the Oscar since his performance in Endgame was outstanding....to Disney's eyes of course. As for Taxi Driver, Quentin Tarantino says Taxi Driver is the best movie of the 70's. If it's coming from Tarantino, you know it's a good movie.

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#15 Solaryellow
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@Serraph105 said:

It was about a year or two ago when I realized that I hadn't seen a single movie nominated for the Oscar's best picture award that year and no longer cared what they were covering. I still watched tons of movies and had a great time doing so, but it was stuff like Star Wars, The Avengers, animated movies that would never get the nod in a million years, and comedies that are designed to make me laugh as opposed to make me take a hard look at the world.

Your consensus seems to be one of commonality among people including myself. What I've noticed is how so many of these "highly" nominated pictures tend to be rather obscure AND unavailable in your local theater at the time of nomination and/or receipt of said award. IMO a picture doesn't need to be groundbreaking, serious, etc.., for recognition. Uplifting, jolly, funny, relaxed, etc.., can also make for a good movie. For example, The Deer Hunter is/was a superb film well deserving of the acolytes it won but there are more than just films with that similar overtone deserving some recognition rather than almost being relegated to cult status.

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#16 DEVILinIRON
Member since 2006 • 5193 Posts

He's a shoe in.

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#17 LJS9502_basic
Member since 2003 • 167872 Posts

Never a fan of award shows. They are always political and most of the time populist.

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#18 jaydan
Member since 2015 • 2718 Posts

@uninspiredcup said:

@ezekiel43: Matt Stone And Trey Parker gave it the respect it deserves when they turned up high as a kite in drag.

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It's a night of magic

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#19 CrimsonBrute  Moderator
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@davillain- said:

I'm surprise you didn't list Robert Downey Jr cause Disney is pushing him for the Oscar since his performance in Endgame was outstanding....to Disney's eyes of course.

RDJ has said that he isn't interested in one. At least not for Endgame.

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#20 MirkoS77
Member since 2011 • 14643 Posts

IT’S JUST A FUCKING MOVIE.

Why does everything need to be picked apart and scrutinized?

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#21 warmblur
Member since 2017 • 3437 Posts

@MirkoS77 said:

IT’S JUST A FUCKING MOVIE.

Why does everything need to be picked apart and scrutinized?

Because we live in a era where simple minded people have a voice.

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#22 dave123321
Member since 2003 • 35422 Posts

I sure hope not

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#23 ClaudiaFields
Member since 2019 • 21 Posts

I don't think so. Awards are offered to talent as I hope. He was brilliant and excellent at performing in the joker movie..I always remember his a chuckle and How clever he is...

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#24 LJS9502_basic
Member since 2003 • 167872 Posts

I don't see a comic book movie winning. It was a good movie and all but I don't see that happening without controversy. As for those people that lost someone...…..it was a tragedy but it had nothing to do with the subject matter of the movie except that it was a movie that would sell.

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#25 Macutchi
Member since 2007 • 6941 Posts
@uninspiredcup said:

Doctor Lecture

haha

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#26  Edited By uninspiredcup
Member since 2013 • 36135 Posts

@Macutchi said:
@uninspiredcup said:

Doctor Lecture

haha

Ha, wasn't expecting anyone to pick up on that.

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Off topic - The first half of Hannibal is almost as good imo, as soon as he arrives in America it turns to shit, unfortunately.

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#27 warmblur
Member since 2017 • 3437 Posts

I doubt it it's a mainstream success now, but honestly who gives a shit about the Oscars.