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Joker takes top honors at Venice Film Festival

Todd Phillips’ origin story well positioned for Oscar recognition

joaquin smiling in joker Warner Bros. Pictures
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Joker won the Golden Lion at the 76th Venice Film Festival, an award that should position the film for Oscar nominations, if not also wins, in significant artistic categories.

The Venice Film Festival is the world’s longest running, and the Golden Lion is its top prize. Director Todd Phillips thanked “Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie,” reports THR.

Three of the last four American films to win a Golden Lion have gone on to receive 31 nominations for Academy Awards, winning 10. The Shape of Water won Best Picture and Best Director for Guillermo del Toro in 2018; The Wrestler was nominated for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in 2009; and Brokeback Mountain won Best Director, while also being nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor, in 2006.

Additionally, last year’s widely hailed Roma, by the Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón, was a 2018 Golden Lion winner and Best Director winner at this year’s Oscars.

Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is an adaptation of the origin story behind Batman’s longtime nemesis. Its world premiere was in Venice on Aug. 31; the movie will debut in the United States on Oct. 4.

Comic book movies, when they have won Oscars, have typically been nominated in technical or design categories. Notable exceptions have been a nomination and win for Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor — as The Joker, no less — in 2008’s The Dark Knight, and a nomination for Best Picture for 2018’s Black Panther.