We have been wondering, ever since it held its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival. Is Joker an Oscar contender? After this weekend, the answer is a resounding, “You bet your ass.”
Two major awards bodies released their nominations in the past 48 hours. The Broadcast Film Critics’ Association and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association both showered love on Todd Phillips’ comic book movie, giving its Oscar hopes a significant boost. Joker got four Golden Globes nominations this morning. Not a significant tally. But it’s the four that it got that make all the difference.
Joker landed itself in the Best Motion Picture – Drama category for the Golden Globes. It will compete against Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, Sam Mendes’ 1917 and the crowdpleasing The Two Popes. Right now, the nomination is the win, because it keeps Joker in the conversation.
It’s not just a one-off recognition. Joker also took nominations at the Golden Globes in the Best Director category, Best Actor in a Drama (Joaquin Phoenix), and Best Score. That’s three major categories that will continue the momentum of the super-villain story as we run up to Oscar nomination morning.
The thing about Joker is, it’s not your usual comic-book adaptation. Director Todd Phillips based his exploration of the criminal mastermind on two seminal Martin Scorsese movies: Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. Even attempting to live in the shadows of those movies means that you have aspirations, and in my opinion, Joker met them. Recognizing it as a year-end awards contender doesn’t just validate the comic-book genre, it encourages more directors to take recognizable characters like this (think Logan) and treat them as serious subjects worthy of their own, adult-oriented stories.
Over on the Critics’ Choice side, Joker nabbed seven awards, also bolstering its status as a movie to contend with this awards season. In addition to nods for Picture, Score and Actor, the movie took home some below-the-line nods that show it’s appreciated by the industry. Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design and Hair & Makeup all were recognized, and I have to say that Phillips’ effort to recreate a dirty, grimy Gotham city absolutely deserves to be singled out.
Now comes the really hard part. The competition this year is ridiculously stacked, as Joker contends against movies like The Irishman, Marriage Story, 1917, Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and more for Oscar frontrunner-ship. (Is that a word?) It’s not enough to be good this year. You have to be an all-timer to win awards. Or, you know, be Green Book.