Dark ‘Joker’ wins top prize in Venice

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD -

Todd Phillips’ dark comic book film “Joker” won the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val on Satur­day and ce­mented its place as a le­git­i­mate con­tender for the rest of the awards sea­son.

Jury pres­i­dent Lu­cre­tia Mar­tel an­nounced the win­ners of the pres­ti­gious award dur­ing a cer­e­mony on the Lido. The Golden Lion pre­vi­ously put a spot­light on films that went on to be ma­jor awards sea­son play­ers, such as “Roma” and the film academy’s 2018 best pic­ture win­ner, “The Shape of Wa­ter.”

“I want to thank Warner Bros. and DC for step­ping out of their com­fort zone and tak­ing such a bold swing on me and this movie,” Phillips said with star Joaquin Phoenix by his side on stage.

Phoenix did not win the best ac­tor prize — it went to Ital­ian ac­tor Luca Marinelli for the Jack Lon­don adap­ta­tion “Martin Eden” — but the direc­tor of “Joker” ded­i­cated much of his speech to the tal­ents of his lead­ing man.

In the film, he trans­forms from strug­gling stand-up co­me­dian Arthur Fleck into Bat­man’s clas­sic neme­sis.

“Thank you for trust­ing me with your in­sane tal­ents,” Phillips said to Phoenix.

Ro­man Polan­ski’s Drey­fus af­fair film, “An Of­fi­cer and a Spy,” won the grand jury prize, which rec­og­nizes other strong con­tenders for the Golden Lion.

Polan­ski, who fled the U.S. af­ter plead­ing guilty to un­law­ful sex with a 13-year-old girl and has been a fugi­tive for over 40 years, was not at the cer­e­mony to ac­cept the award.


Todd Phillips, left, and Joaquin Phoenix with the Golden Lion Award at the Venice In­ter­na­tional Film Fest.

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