Joker may not be a superhero movie, per se. But with comic book roots the film has overcome the odds to receive a staggering eleven Oscar nominations. But don’t expect it to win many.
Twelve months ago we celebrated Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’. Historically there have been slim pickings for superhero movies at the Oscars, but 2019 marked a year of change for the awards ceremony and ‘Black Panther’ received seven nominations including Best Picture. Perhaps no one genuinely expected the film to pick up the main prize and , alas, it didn’t. But ultimately ‘Black Panther’ did win awards for best set and costume design.
Whilst 2019 felt like a step towards a more progressive and inclusive event with race and gender more fairly represented than in previous years, criticism has been directed towards the Academy once more in 2020. Making the headlines this year is how males dominate the Best Director category with a notable absence of any female nominations at all.
Within that category sits Todd Phillips, director of ‘Joker’. His film is a unique take on the origin story of Batman’s most infamous nemesis, but shuns typical superhero tropes and indeed almost any link to DC Comics, from the pages of which the basis of the film was born.
Instead ‘Joker’ is an unsettling dissection of one man’s descent into crime as the result of increasing and untreated mental health issues. It’s as much a commentary of the failings in mental health care in the early ’80s as it is a graphic portrayal of deranged psychosis.
Despite almost unanimous acclaim from fans and critics alike and an impressive haul nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, ‘Joker’ probably won’t fare that well. According to SBD the film’s best shot at a major award at the Oscars this year lies in only one category.
Like ‘Black Panther’ in 2019, ‘Joker’ is almost certain to end up as an “also ran” when it comes to Best Picture. Sam Mendes’ ‘1917’ provides far more gravitas and a much more worthy story in that category. Despite this, it looks like Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon A Time In Hollywood’ could scoop the big prize. The Best Picture award would overshadow Tarantino’s previous two Oscar wins for ‘Pulp Fiction’ in 1995 and ‘Django Unchained’ in 2013. Both of which were for Best Original Screenplay.
Whilst he may miss out on Best Picture with ‘1917’, Sam Mendes is the current favourite for Best Director. It would be the second time Mendes has won this award. The first was for ‘American Beauty’ in 2000. We’re expecting to see Todd Phillips applauding the victory from his place in the audience in this category.
Phillips may well be applauding again when it comes to Best Actor. This time under better circumstances. For his portrayal of Arthur Fleck and his subsequent evolution into Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is almost certain to scoop the Oscar for Best Actor ahead of Adam Driver. The later is nominated for his role in ‘Marriage Story’ rather than his more recognised role as Kylo Ren in the recent Star Wars trilogy. Joaquin Phoenix has two previous nominations in this category for ‘Walk The Line’ in 2006 and ‘The Master’ in 2013. He also received a nomination for Best Supporting actor for ‘Gladiator’ in 2001.
‘Joker’ is nominated for a further eight categories including: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best make-up and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
Despite an impressive haul of nominations ‘Joker’ is up against strong competition in each of these categories. It’s entirely likely that on the night the film could walk away relatively empty handed. No one said show business was easy.
The 92nd Academy Awards will take place on February 9th (The early hours of February 10th in the UK). For a full list of nominees visit oscars.org.