Dark ‘Joker’ wins top prize in Venice
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.