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Joker Nabs a Leading 11 Oscar Nominations, Avengers: Endgame Nominated for 1. Lion Forge Animation Gets Its First.

Joker

The nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards have been announced. Joker has an impressive amount of nominations with 11 total including “Best Picture,” “Best Director,” and “Lead Actor.” That amount leads the pack of nominated films.

The film goes into the race with a good chance of nabbing “Lead Actor,” which Joaquin Phoenix has already been winning numerous awards for, and “Original Score,” which Hildur Guðnadóttir has also been bringing in the wins.

The Warner Bros. film wasn’t the only comic adaptation to get a nomination. Marvel StudiosAvengers: Endgame received one nomination for “Visual Effects.”

But, there’s one more comic-related nomination. Hair Love is nominated for “Animated Short.” The film by Matthew A. Cherry was the first project for Lion Forge Animation, the studio under Polarity the parent company of comic companies Lion Forge and Oni Press. The short played along The Angry Birds Movie 2 and started as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 that raised almost $300,000.

The Academy Awards will air live Feb. 6 on ABC. Check out below for the full list of nominees:

Best Picture:

  • “Ford v Ferrari”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “Jojo Rabbit”
  • “Joker”
  • “Little Women”
  • “Marriage Story”
  • “1917”
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • “Parasite”

Lead Actor:

  • Antonio Banderas “Pain and Glory”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Adam Driver “Marriage Story”
  • Joaquin Phoenix “Joker”
  • Jonathan Pryce “The Two Popes”

Lead Actress:

  • Cynthia Erivo “Harriet”
  • Scarlett Johansson “Marriage Story”
  • Saoirse Ronan “Little Women”
  • Charlize Theron “Bombshell”
  • Renee Zellweger “Judy”

Supporting Actor:

  • Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
  • Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”
  • Al Pacino, “The Irishman”
  • Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”
  • Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Supporting Actress:

  • Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”
  • Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”
  • Scarlett Johannson, “Jojo Rabbit”
  • Florence Pugh, “Little Women”
  • Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Director:

  • Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”
  • Todd Phillips, “Joker”
  • Sam Mendes, “1917”
  • Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”
  • Bong Joon Ho, “Parasite”

Animated Feature:

  • “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” Dean DeBlois
  • “I Lost My Body” Jeremy Clapin
  • “Klaus” Sergio Pablos
  • “Missing Link” Chris Butler
  • “Toy Story 4” Josh Cooley

Animated Short:

  • “Dcera,” Daria Kashcheeva
  • “Hair Love,” Matthew A. Cherry
  • “Kitbull,” Rosana Sullivan
  • “Memorable,” Bruno Collet
  • “Sister,” Siqi Song

Adapted Screenplay:

  • “The Irishman,” Steven Zaillian
  • “Jojo Rabbit,” Taika Waititi
  • “Joker,” Todd Phillips, Scott Silver
  • “Just Mercy” Destin Daniel Cretton and Andrew Lanham
  • “Little Women,” Greta Gerwig
  • “The Two Popes,” Anthony McCarten

Original Screenplay:

  • “Knives Out,” Rian Johnson
  • “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach
  • “1917,” Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Quentin Tarantino
  • “Parasite,” Bong Joon-ho, Jin Won Han

Cinematography:

  • “The Irishman,” Rodrigo Prieto
  • “Joker,” Lawrence Sher
  • “The Lighthouse,” Jarin Blaschke
  • “1917,” Roger Deakins
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Robert Richardson

Best Documentary Feature:

  • “American Factory,” Julia Rieichert, Steven Bognar
  • “The Cave,” Feras Fayyad
  • “The Edge of Democracy,” Petra Costa
  • “For Sama,” Waad Al-Kateab, Edward Watts
  • “Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov

Best Documentary Short Subject:

  • “In the Absence”
  • “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone,” Carol Dysinger
  • “Life Overtakes Me,” Kristine Samuelson, John Haptas
  • “St. Louis Superman”
  • “Walk Run Cha-Cha,” Laura Nix

Best Live Action Short Film:

  • “Brotherhood,” Meryam Joobeur
  • “Nefta Football Club,” Yves Piat
  • “The Neighbors’ Window,” Marshall Curry
  • “Saria,” Bryan Buckley
  • “A Sister,” Delphine Girard

Best International Feature Film:

  • “Corpus Christi,” Jan Komasa
  • “Honeyland,” Tamara Kotevska, Ljubo Stefanov
  • “Les Miserables,” Ladj Ly
  • “Pain and Glory,” Pedro Almodovar
  • “Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho

Film Editing:

  • “Ford v Ferrari,” Michael McCusker, Andrew Buckland
  • “The Irishman,” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Jojo Rabbit,” Tom Eagles
  • “Joker,” Jeff Groth
  • “Parasite,” Jinmo Yang

Sound Editing:

  • “Ford v Ferrari,” Don Sylvester
  • “Joker,” Alan Robert Murray
  • “1917,” Oliver Tarney, Rachel Tate
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Wylie Stateman
  • “Star Wars: The Rise of SkyWalker,” Matthew Wood, David Acord

Sound Mixing:

  • “Ad Astra”
  • “Ford v Ferrari”
  • “Joker”
  • “1917”
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Production Design:

  • “The Irishman,” Bob Shaw and Regina Graves
  • “Jojo Rabbit,” Ra Vincent and Nora Sopkova
  • “1917,” Dennis Gassner and Lee Sandales
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Barbara Ling and Nancy Haigh
  • “Parasite,” Lee Ha-Jun and Cho Won Woo, Han Ga Ram, and Cho Hee

Original Score:

  • “Joker,” Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • “Little Women,” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Marriage Story,”Randy Newman
  • “1917,” Thomas Newman
  • “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” John Williams*“The King,” Nicholas Britell

Original Song:

  • “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”
  • “I’m Gonna Love Me Again,” “Rocketman”
  • “I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”
  • “Into the Unknown,” “Frozen 2”
  • “Stand Up,” “Harriet”

Makeup and Hair:

  • “Bombshell”
  • “Joker”
  • “Judy”
  • “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”
  • “1917”

Costume Design:

  • ”The Irishman,” Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson
  • “Jojo Rabbit,” Mayes C. Rubeo
  • “Joker,” Mark Bridges
  • “Little Women,” Jacqueline Durran
  • “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Arianne Phillips

Visual Effects:

  • “Avengers Endgame”
  • “The Irishman”
  • “1917”
  • “The Lion King”
  • “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Avengers: Endgame, Joker, and Watchmen Walk Away Winners From the Critic’s Choice Awards

Joker

Joker and Watchmen both took home multiple prizes from the 2020 Critics Choice Awards.

Joaquin Phoenix won for “Best Actor” for his lead portrayal in Joker. It also saw another win for Hildur Guðnadóttir for “Best Score.”

The film lost “Best Picture,” “Best Adapted Screenplay,” “Best Cinematography,” “Best Production Design,” and “Best Hair and Makeup.”

Avengers: Endgame won for “Best Visual Effects” and “Best Action Movie” where it beat Spider-Man: Far From Home. The movie lost “Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie.”

Watchmen picked up actor wins but lost “Best Drama Series.” Regina King won for “Best Actress in a Drama Series” while Jean Smart won for “Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.” Tim Blake Nelson was also nominated for “Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series” but did not win.

Check out the full list of nominees and winners below.

FILM

Best Picture

1917
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite
Uncut Gems

Best Actor

Antonio Banderas — Pain and Glory
Robert De Niro — The Irishman
Leonardo DiCaprio — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Adam Driver — Marriage Story
Eddie Murphy — Dolemite Is My Name
Joaquin Phoenix — Joker
Adam Sandler — Uncut Gems

Best Actress

Awkwafina — The Farewell
Cynthia Erivo — Harriet
Scarlett Johansson — Marriage Story
Lupita Nyong’o — Us
Saoirse Ronan — Little Women
Charlize Theron — Bombshell
Renée Zellweger — Judy

Best Supporting Actor

Willem Dafoe — The Lighthouse
Tom Hanks — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony Hopkins — The Two Popes
Al Pacino — The Irishman
Joe Pesci — The Irishman
Brad Pitt — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Best Supporting Actress

Laura Dern — Marriage Story
Scarlett Johansson — Jojo Rabbit
Jennifer Lopez — Hustlers
Florence Pugh — Little Women
Margot Robbie — Bombshell
Zhao Shuzhen — The Farewell 

Best Young Actor/Actress

Julia Butters — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Roman Griffin Davis — Jojo Rabbit
Noah Jupe — Honey Boy
Thomas McKenzie — Jojo Rabbit
Shahadi Wright Joseph — Us
Archie Yates — Jojo Rabbit

Best Acting Ensemble

Bombshell
The Irishman
Knives Out
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Parasite

Best Director

Noah Baumbach — Marriage Story
Greta Gerwig — Little Women
Bong Joon Ho — Parasite
Sam Mendes — 1917
Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie — Uncut Gems
Martin Scorsese — The Irishman 
Quentin Tarantino — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood

Best Original Screenplay

Noah Baumbach — Marriage Story
Rian Johnson — Knives Out
Bong Joon Ho and Han Jin Won — Parasite
Quentin Tarantino — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Lulu Wang — The Farewell

Best Adapted Screenplay

Greta Gerwig — Little Women
Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Anthony McCarten — The Two Popes 
Todd Phillips and Scott Silver — Joker
Taika Waititi — Jojo Rabbit
Steven Zaillian — The Irishman

Best Cinematography

Jarin Blaschke — The Lighthouse
Roger Deakins — 1917
Phedon Papamichael — Ford v Ferrari
Rodrigo Prieto — The Irishman
Robert Richardson — Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood 
Lawrence Sher — Joker

Best Production Design

Mark Friedberg, Kris Moran — Joker
Dennis Gassner, Lee Sandales — 1917
Jess Gonchor, Claire Kaufman — Little Women
Lee Ha Jun — Parasite
Barbara Ling, Nancy Haigh — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Bob Shaw, Regina Graves — The Irishman
Donal Woods, Gina Cromwell — Downton Abbey

Best Editing

Ronald Bronstein, Benny Safdie — Uncut Gems
Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker — Ford v Ferrari
Yang Jinmo — Parasite
Fred Raskin — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Thelma Schoonmaker — The Irishman
Lee Smith — 1917

Best Costume Design

Ruth E. Carter — Dolemite Is My Name
Julian Day — Rocketman
Jacqueline Durran — Little Women
Arianne Phillips — Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Sandy Powell, Christopher Peterson — The Irishman
Anna Robbins — Downton Abbey

Best Hair and Makeup

Bombshell
Dolemite Is My Name
The Irishman
Joker
Judy
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Rocketman

Best Visual Effects

1917
Ad Astra
The Aeronauts
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
The Lion King

Best Animated Feature

Abominable
Frozen II
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
I Lost My Body
Missing Link
Toy Story 4

Best Action Movie

1917
Avengers: Endgame
Ford v Ferrari
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Spider-Man: Far From Home

Best Comedy

Booksmart
Dolemite Is My Name
The Farewell
Jojo Rabbit
Knives Out

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Movie

Ad Astra
Avengers: Endgame
Midsommar
Us

Best Foreign Language Film

Atlantics
Les Misérables
Pain and Glory
Parasite
Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Best Song

“Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” – Wild Rose
“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” – Rocketman
“I’m Standing With You” – Breakthrough
“Into the Unknown” – Frozen II
“Speechless” – Aladdin
“Spirit “– The Lion King
“Stand Up” – Harriet

Best Score

Michael Abels – Us
Alexandre Desplat – Little Women
Hildur Guðnadóttir – Joker
Randy Newman – Marriage Story
Thomas Newman – 1917
Robbie Robertson – The Irishman

TELEVISION

Best Drama Series

The Crown (Netflix)
David Makes Man (OWN)
Game of Thrones (HBO)
The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Pose (FX)
Succession (HBO)
This Is Us (NBC)
Watchmen (HBO)

Best Actor in a Drama Series

Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us (NBC)
Mike Colter – Evil (CBS)
Paul Giamatti – Billions (Showtime)
Kit Harington – Game of Thrones (HBO)
Freddie Highmore – The Good Doctor (ABC)
Tobias Menzies – The Crown (Netflix)
Billy Porter – Pose (FX)
Jeremy Strong – Succession (HBO)

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Christine Baranski – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Olivia Colman – The Crown (Netflix)
Jodie Comer – Killing Eve (BBC America)
Nicole Kidman – Big Little Lies (HBO)
Regina King – Watchmen (HBO)
Mj Rodriguez – Pose (FX)
Sarah Snook – Succession (HBO)
Zendaya – Euphoria (HBO)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Asante Blackk – This Is Us (NBC)
Billy Crudup – The Morning Show (Apple)
Asia Kate Dillon – Billions (Showtime)
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones (HBO)
Justin Hartley – This Is Us (NBC)
Delroy Lindo – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Tim Blake Nelson – Watchmen (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Helena Bonham Carter – The Crown (Netflix)
Gwendoline Christie – Game of Thrones (HBO)
Laura Dern – Big Little Lies (HBO)
Audra McDonald – The Good Fight (CBS All Access)
Jean Smart – Watchmen (HBO)
Meryl Streep – Big Little Lies (HBO)
Susan Kelechi Watson – This Is Us (NBC)

Best Comedy Series

Barry (HBO)
Fleabag (Amazon)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Mom (CBS)
One Day at a Time (Netflix)
PEN15 (Hulu)
Schitt’s Creek (Pop)

Best Actor in a Comedy Series

Ted Danson – The Good Place (NBC)
Walton Goggins – The Unicorn (CBS)
Bill Hader – Barry (HBO)
Eugene Levy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Paul Rudd – Living with Yourself (Netflix)
Bashir Salahuddin – Sherman’s Showcase (IFC)
Ramy Youssef – Ramy (Hulu)

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate – Dead to Me (Netflix)
Alison Brie – GLOW (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Kirsten Dunst – On Becoming a God in Central Florida (Showtime)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep (HBO)
Catherine O’Hara – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge – Fleabag (Amazon)

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Andre Braugher – Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)
Anthony Carrigan – Barry (HBO)
William Jackson Harper – The Good Place (NBC)
Daniel Levy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Nico Santos – Superstore (NBC)
Andrew Scott – Fleabag (Amazon)
Henry Winkler – Barry (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Alex Borstein – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
D’Arcy Carden – The Good Place (NBC)
Sian Clifford – Fleabag (Amazon)
Betty Gilpin – GLOW (Netflix)
Rita Moreno – One Day at a Time (Netflix)
Annie Murphy – Schitt’s Creek (Pop)
Molly Shannon – The Other Two (Comedy Central)

Best Limited Series

Catch-22 (Hulu)
Chernobyl (HBO)
Fosse/Verdon (FX)
The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
Unbelievable (Netflix)
When They See Us (Netflix)
Years and Years (HBO)

Best Movie Made for Television

Brexit (HBO)
Deadwood: The Movie (HBO)
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
Guava Island (Amazon)
Native Son (HBO)
Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)

Best Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Christopher Abbott – Catch-22 (Hulu)
Mahershala Ali – True Detective (HBO)
Russell Crowe – The Loudest Voice (Showtime)
Jared Harris – Chernobyl (HBO)
Jharrel Jerome – When They See Us (Netflix)
Sam Rockwell – Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Noah Wyle – The Red Line (CBS)

Best Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Kaitlyn Dever – Unbelievable (Netflix)
Anne Hathaway – Modern Love (Amazon)
Megan Hilty – Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)
Joey King – The Act (Hulu)
Jessie Mueller – Patsy & Loretta (Lifetime)
Merritt Wever – Unbelievable (Netflix)
Michelle Williams – Fosse/Verdon (FX)

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Asante Blackk – When They See Us (Netflix)
George Clooney – Catch-22 (Hulu)
John Leguizamo – When They See Us (Netflix)
Dev Patel – Modern Love (Amazon)
Jesse Plemons – El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Netflix)
Stellan Skarsgård – Chernobyl (HBO)
Russell Tovey – Years and Years (HBO)

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie Made for Television

Patricia Arquette – The Act (Hulu)
Marsha Stephanie Blake – When They See Us (Netflix)
Toni Collette – Unbelievable (Netflix)
Niecy Nash – When They See Us (Netflix)
Margaret Qualley – Fosse/Verdon (FX)
Emma Thompson – Years and Years (HBO)
Emily Watson – Chernobyl (HBO)

Best Animated Series

Big Mouth (Netflix)
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (Netflix)
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (Netflix)
The Simpsons (Fox)
Undone (Amazon)

Best Talk Show

Desus & Mero (Showtime)
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee (TBS)
The Kelly Clarkson Show (NBC)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)
The Late Late Show With James Corden (CBS)
Late Night With Seth Meyers (NBC)

Best Comedy Special

Amy Schumer: Growing (Netflix)
Jenny Slate: Stage Fright (Netflix)
Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons (ABC)
Ramy Youssef: Feelings (HBO)
Seth Meyers: Lobby Baby (Netflix)
Trevor Noah: Son of Patricia (Netflix)
Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Netflix)

Joker Wins Two at the Golden Globes as the Film’s Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir Makes History

Joker

It was a good night for Joker at last night’s Golden Globes. The controversial film won two awards by evening’s end.

Hildur Guðnadóttir won for “Best Original Score” making history. The composer is the first solo woman to win a Golden Globe in the category. Lisa Gerrard was a co-winner with Hans Zimmer for Gladiator in 2000 and Karen O was the last woman to be nominated, shared with Carter Burwell, in 2009 for Where the Wild Things Are.

Guðnadóttir is bringing in the awards. She won an Emmy for scoring Chernobyl and she’s nominated for a Grammy. She’s also nominated for both Joker and Chernobyl at the Society of Composers and Lyricists’ awards, happening Tuesday night at the Skirball Center.

Director Todd Phillips discovered her music in Sicario: Day of the Soldado and sought her out for his film. Phillips provided her with the script and had her “take it from there.” The score was played on set so reactions to the music are in real-time.

Joaquin Phoenix also walked away a winner for “Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama” for his leading role in the film.

The film also lost in two categories. The movie lost to 1917 for “Best Motion Picture – Drama” and Todd Phillips lost to Sam Menders for “Best Director – Motion Picture.”

The controversial film with just a $55 million budget has gone on to earn over $1 billion making it one of the most profitable films ever.

Movie Review: Joker

Joker

Send in the clowns…

So honestly I did not know what to expect when I purchased my Joker ticket. I had heard that it was great and earth-shattering. I had also heard it was pretty terrible. So you see why I had to go see it for myself, right?

The first thing that made me nervous was pulling up to the theater and seeing parked police cars. And when you think of why they had to be there, it made the whole experience even more surreal. My safety, as well as other moviegoers, were at risk. Because not everyone going to this movie would be sound of mind. And when you think about the public shootings…well… you can appreciate my growing concern.

Did I find this movie to be amazing? A masterpiece? No. Joaquin Phoenix did an AMAZING job in portraying arguably the most iconic comic book villain ever. Soooo creepy with those glassy, intense eyes set underneath those dark eyebrows, and he was so painfully skinny. His ribcage was a sight. He clearly lost weight for the role and it showed! Now, there were times when you sympathized with him. Clearly suffering from mental illness, and bullied by an unforgiving world, would certainly mess you up. That is not in question. It is what he does later on that doesn’t quite have you cheering him on. Deep down, you were glad he, I dunno, found himself?

I can’t and won’t pretend to know what if feels like to have one’s mind brimming and seething like a cauldron of negative thoughts. I can’t. And won’t allow myself to sink that low when it would be so easy to reach the bottom as Joker did. He had a mind of eels, a basket of drowned kittens. And all of what I said would have made him laugh. And can we talk about his laugh? Maybe we shouldn’t. I would hate to have nightmares….

He disturbed me. I would flinch and gasp with each outburst, as they increasingly grew more and more violent. The children’s hospital scene made me gasp then laugh then I had to cover my mouth. I wanted to hug him, but then he would have slit my throat… so no. He NEEDED to be institutionalized.

I felt uneasy whenever he had to interact with people but especially the black women in this movie. Example such as his social worker and the effervescent Sophie Dumond played by Zazie Beetz. I didn’t want the love story to blossom. I didn’t want her to even look at him and catch his crazy eye. But every good story needs conflict, right? Especially when you already know the horrible ending… I just wasn’t here for this poor unfortunate black women dealing with the white tears of a clown.

There’s a scene, in particular, that gave me chills. The Joker is standing on the curb and a car drives by with a man wearing a clown mask. They make eye contact. And Joker widens his eyes with the most disturbing smile on his face. I don’t know if I can look at Phoenix in the same way again.

Seeing Robert DeNiro was a treat. I loved him as the late night talk show host role as Murray Franklin. There’s something about the outro song that reminded me of SNL. It’s very jazzy and bluesy. And one of my other personal faves, Frances Conroy as Joker’s mom Penny, was a treat. She has such range as an actress. I’ve seen her as mortician’s widow, the angel of death, and now as the mother of the most insane criminal in the literary world. 

Anyway, I am not going to make this into a thinkpiece. As always, I wanted to share how I felt when seeing this. It was visceral, intense, and a proper origin story to one of my favorite characters. To borrow a phrase from a song:

“Everybody loves a winner so nobody loved me”

I can’t help but feel that is applicable to the sad, twisted, loveless tale of the Joker. He said life was a comedy. But most comedies are tragic. He needed help and no one cared enough to do so. He snapped while still smiling so hard his muscles ached and strained until his eyes watered. Still he smiled. This is not the tale of an underdog. This a tale of a man who laughed last.

Movie Review: Joker

Joker poster

Joker is a schizophrenic film. I’m loathe to use that term because it’s both a bit too on the nose (because of mental health issues explored in the film) and the term schizophrenia is largely misunderstood. However, it’s the best description (literally “split head”) of what is a gripping and gritty but at the same time somehow both banal, disturbing and irresponsible film.

In that way it is very much like its protagonist and the comics character he is based on. But the film also tries to draw from such a deep well of other films (better films) that it’s really hard to fully recommend to people when they’re probably better off just going back to the original source material.

Let’s start with the good. Joker is trying to present a complex character of someone who has been largely marginalized by society and essentially indicts the system that led to his emergence as a supervillain. I get that, and I really respect it, but I also wish it had just been done better. It’s also hard to feel bad for someone who is at their core a sociopath as we see someone falling down into that rabbit hole through escalating acts of violence. Some of them are warranted but most of them not.

Joaquin Phoenix does a great job here in presenting the multiple different layers of this character. The physicality alone he brings here is astounding and part of what makes this film so visceral and so (intentionally) unpleasant. The film also makes him a great classic unreliable narrator, so you’re left wondering how much of the film is real and how much might be delusional. However, you have to ask yourself, how much sympathy do we really need to give to a psychopath? This film doesn’t offer any good conclusions to that question.

To the extent this film inspires conversations about mental health care and the systemic ways in which we fail people on the margins of society, that is a good thing. To the extent that it inspires us to discuss growing income inequality and the marginalization of the poor and the true class warfare — the 1% beating down the disadvantaged — then those are good conversations.

The problem is that the film will also inspire other conversations that will be far less nuanced and will take all of the wrong messages from this film. These messages will inspire violence, creating more heat than light. That is ultimately this film’s downfall is that it has no sense of responsibility for what it is unleashing into the culture.

WARNING: The following contains very minor SPOILERS. They are not major plot points but includes a single line of dialogue, a discussion of songs used in the film, and how Joker draws from other films. If you’re familiar with those films, knowing their plots may be considered “spoilers” for how this film lays out its plot. However, I maintain none of these will actually spoil your enjoyment of the film. If anything, hopefully, it inspires some critical conversations. BUT if you don’t want to know these, skip to the final 2 paragraphs. Ok, minor “spoilers”:

In this same way, Joker as a character tries to absolve himself of all responsibility for the effects his actions have on society, eg, that he has inspired others to engage in violence. He doesn’t see himself as the leader of any sort of movement, even going so far as to say “I’m not political.” That statement is the Rosetta Stone for understanding why this film is flawed. In its heart of hearts, it probably believes this.

Furthermore, this is likely writer and director Todd Phillips giving himself an out and abrogating any personal responsibility for how others might interpret his film– in essence re-enacting the final act of the film where Joker goes on tv and uses the power of the media to spread his gospel of violence and nihilism.

Joker doesn’t care whether he’s inspiring people in the streets or not. He’s not a savior or a leader. But angry, disaffected people will listen to his message and go out and commit atrocities.

So, no, you don’t get to just say, “This isn’t political.” That is the mantra of privilege because you know that the effects of what you are putting out there into the culture is never going to personally affect you.

This film is political in the same way all the best art is political. Its best pieces and moments indict entire systems and ways of thinking. It exposes the corruption and indifference of a society who turns its back on the people who most need help. So saying it’s not political is both a cop-out and completely negates all the positive you’ve created.

Needless to say, this very specific moment in October of 2019, this film feels wholly irresponsible to put into the cultural zeitgeist. I have never worried about widespread mass shootings happening at screenings of any other film, even given the crowds Star Wars and Avengers were always going to attract. But I really worry about this weekend. Todd Phillips would have been far better to simply crank out another tired Hangover sequel and give us all a few laughs, even if they weren’t politically correct ones.

Which brings us to Phillips saying he stopped making comedy because he’s tired of “woke” culture. Bad news, Todd, there’s plenty of woke takes on dramas and comic book movies as well. Joker deserves all of the woke takes it can get, and I’m especially interested in hearing from black female critics about the treatment of Zazie Beetz‘s character in the film. By the way, Beetz’s performance is astounding, and every bit as good and layered as Phoenix’s, even though she gets 1/15th the screen time and 1/20th of the lines and character development.

The treatments and marginalization of other women of color in this film is also a great topic for discussion. We also see 0 representation and therefore a complete erasure of Latinx and Asian characters of any kind.

And because one good woke take deserves another, much ado has also been made about the inclusion of a song by Gary Glitter in a scene later in the film where Joker is dancing on a stairway, which can be seen in the trailer.

In so many ways, the inclusion of Gary Glitter on the soundtrack is incredibly on-brand for the film. It represents either complete ignorance of the fact that Glitter has been a known pedophile for decades, or a complete apathy to that fact.

Perhaps this is an attempt to be knowingly edgy and push people’s buttons in an attempt to troll “cancel culture.” But most likely it is that Phillips is just totally indifferent.

The entire film reeks of a practiced indifference and air of privilege that, ironically, the subject of the film is trying to skewer. Joker falls all over itself in its subtext and talking about how it doesn’t care too much. It, therefore, can’t possibly have the edge and satire it needs to actually say something coherent about an indifferent society that steps over and marginalizes people who have been hurt by the system or forgotten. You literally can’t be both.

The film also begs, borrows and steals from so many other films it becomes tiresome. This is a bad bar band covering hits from the 70s, but instead of singing Journey and Fleetwood Mac, it’s a remake of Scorsese’s King of Comedy and Taxi Driver. Both of those films would fit in many critics’ and organizations’ top 25 list of the greatest films of all time. It’s doubtful Joker will even make it into my top 25 of this year.

You know how most of the Die Hard sequels weren’t actually originally written to be Die Hard? They were just action scripts floating around Hollywood and then someone said, “Take that script for WW3.com, and put John McClane in it. Now it’s Die Hard with a Vengeance.” This movie feels like someone’s script that tried to remake King of Comedy and then someone came along and said: “Let’s make this main character the Joker.”

The other film that gets most name-checked in Joker but has been perhaps the least discussed (the parallels to Scorsese were apparent from the trailers alone, so much so that it’s almost too easy a comparison) is the parallels to Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. Joker uses both a scene from the film at a pivotal point in the movie, and also uses its signature song “Smile” as a sort of theme song– so much so that it’s in the trailer.

On the surface, there are some real similarities. Both films are about the marginalization of regular people due to growing inequality. Both films deal with mental health and police brutality as well as crackdowns on organizing/protest movements. The main difference is their endings.

In Modern Times, after 90 minutes of factory work, abuse, a mental breakdown, being arrested, beaten up by the police, losing more jobs, having their dreams taken away from them by the rich and powerful on a couple of different occasions, Chaplain and his gamin girlfriend literally walk into the sunset after saying they can’t give up and never should no matter how many times they’ve been beaten down. They still need to work hard and will eventually come out on top.

Joker conveys the exact opposite message of that, so it feels like such a disservice to such classic a film as Modern Times to so explicitly reference it. It feels more like if Todd Phillips were standing in a movie line talking about Modern Times and Joker, Woody Allen would pull Charlie Chaplin out from behind a sign to say “I heard what you were saying. You know nothing of my work.” (That’s an Annie Hall reference, folks, since we’re talking 1970’s movies. And yes I’m still talking about Woody Allen even though he’s #cancelled.)

Given the ersatz quality of the filmmaking here, would you rather hear the classics played by the crappy bar band, or just pull out your records and listen to the originals? Don’t go see Joker if you haven’t seen King of Comedy. Or Taxi Driver. Or Modern Times. Your time will be better spent on the originals and classics rather than these pale imitations.

END “SPOILERS”

All of this is to say that Joker is a complicated and often contradictory mess. But it isn’t wholly bad. The tragedy of it all is that there are moments of sheer brilliance. Despite all my problems with it, I hope the film does incredibly well at the box office to send the signal that DC can/should abandon–for now– the pretext of a shared universe and simply churn out character-driven individual films. And sometimes they can be R-rated and gritty and complex.

And sometimes they can be whatever it is they’re doing in that new Birds of Prey trailer, which is everywhere I want to be. And sometimes it can be James Gunn making a Suicide Squad movie. But my hope is that next time they try to swing for the fences like this with something like Joker, they’ll bring someone more talented than Todd Phillips on to make sure we don’t get a self-contradicting warmed-over-King of Comedy remake with the clown prince of crime somehow shoehorned in.

3 out of 5 stars

Joker Wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival

Joker

Joker looks like it’s going to be one hell of a film. The movie is getting lots of buzz, including Oscar talk, and has won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

Directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker pulled off a rare win for a major Hollywood studio production. It’s unprecedented for a “superhero” property. The film is an origin story of the classic Batman villain, though not set in any current comic universe and, as far as we know, not involving Batman.

The film nailed the buzz and has resulted in lots of discussions, including critical takes and dissections already.

The movie is being compared to Taxi Driver and said to capture the zeitgeist of today’s world. The film’s glorifying of violence, as well as a centralization of toxic masculinity, are some of the criticisms. It’s a film that will likely come to mean different things for different people and misread by many, much like Fight Club has in the years after its release.

The last two Golden Lion winners, The Shape of Water and Roma, both were nominated for “Best Picture” at the Academy Awards.

The film opens on October 4.

Joker Gets One Final Trailer

Director Todd PhillipsJoker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.

Three-time Oscar nominee Phoenix stars in the titular role alongside Oscar winner Robert De Niro as Franklin. The film also stars Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Marc Maron, Bill Camp, Glenn Fleshler, Shea Whigham, Brett Cullen, Douglas Hodge, and Josh Pais.

Oscar nominee Phillips directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with Oscar-nominated writer Scott Silver, based on characters from DC.

Joker comes to theaters nationwide October 4, 2019.

Around the Tubes

Vampirella #1

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What’s everyone excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Beat – The Joaquin Phoenix Joker movie won’t draw any material from comics – Good.

Reviews

The Beat – Second Coming #1
The Beat –
Sera and the Royal Stars #1
The Beat –
Vampirella #1
Talking Comics –
The Walking Dead #193

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot Tells the Story of Cartoonist John Callahan

John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix) has a lust for life, a talent for off-color jokes, and a drinking problem. When an all-night bender ends in a catastrophic car accident, the last thing he intends to do is give up drinking. But when he reluctantly enters treatment —with encouragement from his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and a charismatic sponsor (Jonah Hill) —Callahan discovers a gift for drawing edgy, irreverent newspaper cartoons that develop an international following and grant him a new lease on life.

Based on a true story, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a poignant, insightful and often funny drama about the healing power of art is adapted from Callahan’s autobiography and directed by two-time Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant. Jack Black, Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto, and Kim Gordon also star.

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