Instep Today

Can Joaquin Phoenix break the curse with Joker?

Instep Today
By Maheen Sabeeh
Sat, 12, 19

Todd Phillips’ Joker may have made 1 billion dollars but the film has divided critics over its handling of gun violence, mental health and more. However, Joaquin Phoenix’s acting has put him in the Oscar race as frontrunner.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt and James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon has made this upcoming Oscars really about men. It really is going to be about the abovementioned actors. And to some extent, all of them have delivered excellent performances given the material handed to them, in particular Christian Bale as British-born racer and mechanic Ken Miles.

Add to this Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci that has launched its Oscar campaign and recently won the National Board of Review’s top prize of best film – an indicator of the Oscars – and you have a serious battle on your hands.

Then there is the wild card, the indie thriller, Uncut Gems starring Adam Sandler.

Amidst all this is Joker that may have made a billion dollars at the box office but has split critics over its handling of gun violence, which is a serious issue in America as well as how the movie showcased mental illness. What can be agreed upon is that Joaquin Phoenix as Joker surpassed his predecessor, the late Heath Ledger, who was nominated in Best Supporting Actor category posthumously and given the award.

Fortunately, though Phoenix dropped 52 pounds for the role and really threw himself into the film, he is doing just fine and has gained some of his weight back. His acting in the film, however, is superior to all the above-mentioned actors. This kind of genius acting comes along very rarely and though the other actors make for better ratings, having seen these particular films, there is no question that it’s Phoenix who deserves it.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, right now Joaquin is the frontrunner but among major threats and possibilities are actors such as Robert De Niro for The Irishman, Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory, Adam Sandler for Uncut Diamonds, Taron Egerton for Rocketman and Robert Pattinson for The Lighthouse.

Noted CheatSheet: “The daring acting approach of Phoenix is almost always mesmerizing to watch to a point where nobody can keep their eyes away. Let’s assume half the reason behind Joker’s success is simply Phoenix being brilliant in conveying impossibly complex figures.

“A common comment seen on social media comes from those who feel conflicted about what they saw in Joker. They admit they couldn’t take their eyes away while simultaneously recoiling. All of it may come down to the old argument of why people stand and gawk at a burning house or a train wreck. “Outside of many critics calling the film dull and pointless anyway, film historians will likely give all credit to Phoenix for drawing people in to see him bring a new and chilling form of screen magnetism.”

While the debate over super heroes and whether they should be included in the Oscar race will continue in the coming days, weeks and months, particularly after films like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it looks like Joker may not get a nod or even its director Todd Phillips, but Joaquin Phoenix is the favourite and to be able to do that in an year where you are facing the likes of Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio is an exceptional achievement. It is a performance with gravitas where you can’t pull your eyes away from the screen.