How did 'Joker' do in the Golden Globe nominations?
In the run-up to this morning’s Golden Globes nominations, it hasn’t been exactly clear which way the Oscar-season winds are blowing for “Joker.”
On the one hand, director Todd Phillips’ grim, gritty take on the origin story of the iconic supervillain won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival in September and has proved a box office smash, grossing more than $1 billion worldwide — bona fides that would seem to tee it up perfectly for a robust awards run. On the other hand, “Joker” was dogged by pre-release controversy and sharply divided reviews, and while Joaquin Phoenix’s mesmerizing performance as Arthur Fleck is considered a virtual lock for a lead actor Oscar nod, the film’s other awards prospects seem less certain.
In the end, “Joker” came out with four Golden Globe nominations, including best motion picture in the drama category, best director for Todd Phillips, best lead actor in a drama for Phoenix and best score — a surprisingly strong showing that Warner Bros. and Phillips hope will send the film laughing all the way to the Oscars.
While the Golden Globes are famously — or, sometimes, infamously — friendlier to mainstream popcorn fare than many other major awards, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. has never before showered this much love on a comic-book movie. Only two films in the genre have previously scored Globe nods for best motion picture: “Deadpool” and “Black Panther,” which were nominated in the comedy or musical and drama categories, respectively. In the end, neither took home any trophies.
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At the same time, “Joker” is a very different kind of comic-book movie, one with a decidedly dark vision of America that may have resonated with the HFPA. And the HFPA does seem to have a soft spot for actors playing the Joker. Jack Nicholson earned a Globe nomination for his broad, somewhat cartoonish turn as the Clown Prince of Crime in Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman,” and Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Globe (and later an Oscar) for his more frightening and grounded take on the character in the 2008 smash hit “The Dark Knight.”
The Globe nod for Phoenix clearly helps cement his place among the front-runners in this year’s fiercely competitive lead actor race. Still, in the weeks ahead, don’t expect to see the generally press-shy actor out pressing the flesh with great gusto on the Oscar campaign trail.
“I wouldn’t want to feel in any way like I influenced somebody’s thinking beyond just what the work presented,” Phoenix told The Times in October. “It just seems wrong to me. Either your work should leave a lasting memory and be of value and interest or not.” As he sees it, everything else is a bit of, well, a joke.
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