Making Oscars history, “Joker” joins “Black Panther” as only the second comic book movie ever to earn a nomination for best picture. It’s also the first film adapted from the canon of DC Comics characters to be nominated for the Oscar’s top prize. And, with a record 11 nominations, “Joker” is also the first comic book movie to earn the most nominations of any film in a given year.
The nominations for “Joker” include: Best picture for Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff; best director for Phillips (who was not nominated for the DGA award); best actor for Joaquin Phoenix; best adapted screenplay for Phillips and Scott Silver;, best film editing for Jeff Groth; best original score for Hildur Guðnadóttir (a rare nomination for a female film composer); best cinematography for Lawrence Sher; best costume design for Mark Bridges; best makeup and hair for Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou; best sound editing for Alan Robert Murray; and best sound mixing for Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland.
The accolades are the latest proof that the Academy membership has begun to recognize comic book movies for its highest honors.
It’s also vindication for a film that has taken an at times harrowing path through awards season. Just two weeks after “Joker’s” award-winning premiere at the Venice Film Festival, friends and family of victims of the 2012 shooting at an Aurora, Colo., screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” wrote an open letter to Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff expressing concern that the film presents the famous Batman villain “as a protagonist with a sympathetic origin story,” and calling on the studio to actively advocate for gun reform.
In response, the studio quickly released a statement saying neither the film nor the character “is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” and that no one involved with the film intended “to hold this character up as a hero.” But the Aurora letter seemed to crystallize anxiety, stoked by mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in August, that “Joker” might be used as a cri de coeur for disaffected male loners.
Once “Joker” opened in theaters, however, those fears evaporated in the wake of the movie’s blockbuster grosses, culminating in the film becoming the first R-rated movie in history to earn more than $1 billion worldwide. In fact, the only outrage “Joker” appeared to inspire was over the spike in tourist visits to the Bronx staircase where Phoenix does his now iconic dance routine in the movie.
Bolstered by its box office success, “Joker” quickly became an awards season mainstay, earning top nominations from the SAG Awards, BAFTA Film Awards, Golden Globes, PGA Awards, WGA Awards, AFI Awards and Critics Choice Awards.
And now the film is laughing all the way to the Dolby Theater.