Though it didn’t come as a huge surprise as after his Bafta, Golden Globes and Screen Actor Guild wins Joaquin Phoenix was the favourite to take home the award against Adam Driver (Marriage Story), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes), and Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood).
It was the actors’ fourth nomination and surprisingly the first win in Oscars. He had been previously nominated for the Best Supporting Actor category for 2000’s Gladiator, where he played Commodus, and was later nominated for Best Actor for roles as Johnny Cash in 2005’s Walk the Line and Freddie Quell in 2012’s The Master.
Joker became the first DC movie to be nominated in the Best Picture Category and was a favourite to win it. The movie was categorically different from the other comic movies in the way it was developed as well as treated. It was so different that Warner Bros. themselves didn’t have much faith whether it would appeal to their target audience. The movie was very character centric and literally came out with a story so suitable to the cynical character of Joker.
It was scary not only for the producers but also for Todd Phillips, who conceptualised the movie from the beginning to the finish as well as for Phoenix. Both of them were entering this genre for the first time.
The movie was considerably different in a lot of ways. But in Phoenix’s opinion the major way this movie was different was in the way it humanised Joker, we see him deal with issues that are so relevant in our society. It really took us to the depth of issues regarding mental illness in a way no other movie had done before.
Phillips always wanted Phoenix for the role even when he was not attached to it because of what he as an actor brought to the table. So it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to assume that Arthur Fleck was literally built off Phoenix’s personality.