Is Joker's Joaquin Phoenix The Best Actor Oscar Frontrunner?

Joaquin Phoenix just won the Golden Globe for Best Actor – Drama for his riveting performance in Joker, and while people care, at least mildly about the Golden Globes, his win will mostly lead to questions about how this may or may not affect his Oscar chances. Let’s dive in and discuss.

First, to be clear, there is technically no overlap between those who vote for the Golden Globes (the Hollywood Foreign Press) and those who vote for the Oscars (the Academy). The Oscar nominees are set to be announced next Monday, and what happened here will not alter who is on that initial nominations list. That being said, pretending like the Golden Globes exist in a vacuum is not a fair representation either.

The members of the Hollywood Foreign Press share multiple Venn Diagram circles with Oscar voters: they live in Hollywood and are deeply obsessed with movies. They are at some of the same parties, mingling with some of the same people. They hear the same buzz and see the same box office numbers. They're living in the same community and occupying the same industry.

So, is Joaquin Phoenix the frontrunner? That could change based on some other ceremonies that are still outstanding, but right now, you would have to say yes. He’s picked up basically all of the important early nominations. Joker has grossed more than a billion dollars and is widely loved by fans, and while there was some hand-wringing prior to the movie’s release about whether or not the film was promoting violence, all of those concerns have largely fallen away.

I think Joaquin Phoenix’s speech will also potentially work in his favor too. I’m not talking about the climate change stuff. Plenty of celebrities took that approach tonight. I’m talking about how happy he seemed to be at the ceremony and how much he appreciated the whole thing. Whether fair or not, Phoenix has developed a reputation in the past for being a bit aloof at times. That shouldn’t factor into whether or not you vote for someone for an award, but at least 30% of winning an Oscar is a popularity contest.

The Best Actor field this year is absolutely stacked. Leonardo DiCaprio and Adam Driver seem like sure bets, along with Phoenix, for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Marriage Story respectively. Beyond that, we will likely get 2 among the following group: Adam Sandler, Robert DeNiro, Eddie Murphy, Christian Bale, Taron Egerton and Jonathan Pryce, all of whom gave solid A or better performances. It’s one of the toughest groups in years, but it’s hard to make a case that anyone else but Phoenix is emerging as the man to beat. Fittingly, he’s now the odds on favorite over at Gold Derby, as well.

Joaquin Phoenix is wonderful in Joker. Taking the part was a risk, given the up and down history of the role, and it’s his fully committed performance that ties the movie together. He’s the centerpiece of every single scene, and whether he wins or not, it won’t take away his brilliance. That being said, his win could also be a feather in the cap for an Academy Awards ceremony that is often criticized for not featuring enough films people have actually seen.

What do you think? Will Joaquin Phoenix win the Oscar for Best Actor? Let us know by voting in the poll below…

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Mack Rawden
Editor In Chief

Mack Rawden is the Editor-In-Chief of CinemaBlend. He first started working at the publication as a writer back in 2007 and has held various jobs at the site in the time since including Managing Editor, Pop Culture Editor and Staff Writer. He now splits his time between working on CinemaBlend’s user experience, helping to plan the site’s editorial direction and writing passionate articles about niche entertainment topics he’s into. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in English (go Hoosiers!) and has been interviewed and quoted in a variety of publications including Digiday. Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, a great wrestling promo and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.