Remember (if you are old enough) celebrating the performance by Heath Ledger on February 22, 2009 when he won Best Supporting Actor posthumously for the Dark Knight at the Academy Awards. His portrayal of the character left all of us speechless, at that time it was the greatest performance in a comic book based film. That was eleven years ago (start counting the wrinkles, cause we are getting old) and we have another actor nominated for Best Actor for the same role in Joaquin Phoenix’s breathtaking performance in Joker.
With the news of Phoenix’s nomination, a question popped in my head, are comic book based films finally being recognized as award caliber films or is it just the Character of Joker?
It could be argue that Joker is a special film and should not even be in the same category of comic book based films. The reasoning because it was different from the traditional film we get from the genre and that it was Todd Philips own story. But, it is based on a character that originated from the pages of a comic, so it has to be included in the discussion of films. The fact that it is different, that it acts more like Taxi Driver than Batman, gives us hope that future projects in the genre could result with the same accolades.
A little breakdown of the eleven awards that Joker has been nominated for (it’s a long list): Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director for Todd Phillips, Best Original score for Hildur Guonadottir, Best Adapted Screenplay by Todd Phillips and Scott Silver, Best Cinematography for Lawrence Sher, Best makeup and Hairstyling, Best costume design, Best film editing, best sound mixing, and Best sound editing.
Joker has become the most nominated comic book based film of all time after beating The Dark Knight‘s eight nominations and Black Panther‘s six nomination last year. Truthfully I am still surprised that Michael B. Jordan was not nominated for his performance as Killmonger, but becoming the first comic book based film to be nominated for Best Picture is still an amazing feat. As I am surprised about the lack of nomination for Jordan, I was upset with Green Book winning best picture last year, it should had gone to BlacKKKlansman or A Star is Born.
So this marks the second year in a row that a comic based film has been nominated for best picture, so is that a good thing for the future? The answer absolutely. These are films that we want to see and to see them be awarded is amazing. Personally I don’t see the genre going the way of the western especially if films like Joker, Logan, Road to Perdition (yes, based on a comic) and A History of Violence (based of a comic as well) can come from the medium.
As for Marvel, will they ever have a film win Best picture? I don’t want to say no, but they would have to take a risk like DC has. Who knows maybe The Eternals could be an amazing film, I know the book by Neil Gaiman was fantastic. Also Sony has the spider-verse, which has already snugged a best animated film award. If Joker has proven anything, its that with the right director and crew, a comic book based film could win Best picture. All the studio has to do, is let the filmmaker work on their vision. That is why I am excited for Ava DuVernay’s New Gods with Tom King as a co-writer, if DC and Warner Bros continue to leave filmmakers with their own visions, we may see another film like Joker.
It is easy to compare Marvel and DC films, Marvel will always be this box-office juggernaut and DC has the opportunity to become a mainstay in Oscar season if they leave the filmmakers alone. With Patty Jenkins doing Wonder Woman, Matt Reeves with The Batman and James Gunn with The Suicide Squad, DC is in good place.
I think I need to end this with saying I love the MCU, the films are fun and feel like comics. I always cry watch Avengers: Endgame and Thor: Ragnarok is among my favorite films, but I feel like the future is really bright for DC and as a comic fan that has me excited for the future. Come February 9th, I will be rooting for Joker as it would be great for a film to be based on a comic to be recognized as the best of the year.