Director Todd Phillips’s comic book villain origin story Joker has taken the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Joker held its world premier at the festival and reportedly received an eight minute standing ovation at the conclusion of the screening. The listing of a comic book film on the festival’s scheduled was considered somewhat unusual when it was first announced. Also a controversial choice as a festival entry this year was director Roman Polanski’s thriller An Officer And A Spy, which has gone to nab Venice’s Grand Jury Prize.
While Golden Lion winners don’t historically have a clear path to an Academy Award, the last two films to win the prize – last year’s Roma and 2017’s The Shape Of Water – both would claim the Best Director Oscar for their respective years, while three of the last five Best Picture Oscar winners started their awards season run at Venice.
Joker star Joaquin Phoenix received particular attention in the enthusiastic reviews that have accompanied the film’s premier. It is possible that Phoenix could have taken the festival’s top acting award except for the fact that festival rules prohibit Golden Lion winners from also taking awards in other of the festival’s prize categories.