CS Soapbox: Does Joaquin Phoenix’s Golden Globe Win Make Him the Oscar Front Runner?

CS Soapbox: Does Joaquin Phoenix’s Golden Globe Win Make Him the Oscar Front Runner?

Did the Golden Globes put a smile on your face Joker fans? After earning a surprising amount of nominations in major categories, including Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director (Todd Phillips), Joker danced home with two statues — for Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score, and Joaquin Phoenix’s incredible performance as the Clown Prince of Crime, the latter of which beat out presumed frontrunner Adam Driver for his turn in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Marriage Story.

And rightfully so.

Driver is amazing in Marriage Story, but Phoenix went full-on God-mode in Joker, a film that had no business being that good, or that successful earning $1,066,685,454 at the worldwide box office, so far. No, Phillips’ psychological crime drama doesn’t trump the likes of The Irishman or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, at least in my playbook, but the mere fact the Hollywood Foreign Press ranks Joker amongst its prestigious pics is reason enough for movie lovers everywhere to cry out in one collective chord, Thank you, Hollywood Foreign Press, for continuing to recognize comic book movies!

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So, what does Phoenix’s win mean for his Oscar chances? Well, to put it delicately, he might get what he [email protected]$*ing deserves! In the last seven years, every actor who snagged the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama won the big prize a month later. Here’s the list:

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody

Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln

More stats: in the 11 years prior to the above list, the best dramatic actor category at the Globes predicted the Oscar winner six times. So, history is definitely on Phoenix’s side.

Of course, Driver isn’t going away. Nor is Taron Egerton, who won the Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical for his excellent portrayal as Elton John in Rocketman, though, the Academy may want to mix things up after Malek’s win in a similar musical/biographical role last year. Don’t count out Eddie Murphy (Dolemite Is My Name), or dark horse (and Globe’s snub) Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems) just yet, either.

Long story short, Phoenix definitely increased his Oscar chances with the win and could put some distance between himself and the competition should he snag the big prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards in the next few weeks. Although, he probably shouldn’t start practicing his big speech just yet. (Or maybe he should, because his Globes speech was… eh… interesting.)

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In any event, the mere fact that a comic book movie about Batman’s greatest enemy has received such acclaim is reason enough to dance around in your underwear. Obviously, this benchmark was made possible by Christopher Nolan’s own Bat-flick, The Dark Knight way back in 2008, a film that was all but snubbed at the Academy Awards save for a posthumous Supporting Actor statue for Heath Ledger (as, coincidentally enough, the Joker) and an award for Sound Editing. That film deserved much, much more, but the Academy was not yet comfortable ranking a film about a man who dresses up as a bat amongst such esteemed pictures as Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Reader. Seriously, when was the last time you watched any of those films?

James Mangold’s Logan and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther moved the chains forward with nominations in Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture over the past two years, respectively, but neither had a shot to win, with the nominations themselves akin to the kind of pat on the back your uncle gives you for bringing him his beer without spilling it all over the floor. (Of note: neither Nolan nor Coogler received a director’s nomination, which shows just how much the Academy truly appreciated their efforts.)

A Joker victory at the Oscars could potentially break down that strange barrier separating comic book films and Academy voters. God-willing, such an event may also lead to more auteur-driven superhero fare in the future, in which case Martin Scorsese should clear his schedule for that Penguin origin story he’s just dying to make.