In 2018, Black Panther became the first “comic book movie” to be nominated for Best Picture. Joker is trying to become the first to win: Warner Bros. has taken the first stop towards Oscar glory by premiering the Todd Phillips-directed, Joaquin Phoenix-starring film at the Toronto International Film Festival and Venice Film Festival, where it will compete for the prestigious Golden Lion.
Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera told Variety that Phillips was the one who pushed Warner Bros. for Joker to contend for the festival’s biggest honor (previous winners include Brokeback Mountain, The Shape of Water, and Roma) instead of playing out of competition, like A Star is Born last year. He told the studio, “I don’t care if I run the risk of not winning. Why shouldn’t I go in competition when I know what we’ve I’ve got on our hands?” according to Barbera, who added, “I have to say, Warners was convinced rapidly, because it’s a really surprising film. It’s the most surprising film we’ve got this year.”
“This one’s going straight to the Oscars even though it’s gritty, dark, violent. It has amazing ambition and scope.”
Barbera’s comments what Cameron Bailey, the artistic director at the Toronto International Film Festival, recently told IndieWire. “It’s an original story that allows the filmmakers to go in an original direction. It’s got some real dark tones to it, but it’s just grounded in this career-best career performance by Joaquin Phoenix,” she said. “I think all the awards bodies will be taking notice.”
Joker opens on October 4, unless you’re at Venice or TIFF, in which case you’re in for a tWiStEd time before the rest of us.