“Joker” Won The Golden Lion At The Venice International Film Festival (And Roman Polanski Won Silver)
Why do I get the feeling that Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix aren’t exactly 100% thrilled with that win for Joker? It’s bad enough they’ve got to deal with the anti-superhero franchise crowd responding to this news by suggesting legitimate filmmaking is dead. But until the next award is handed out, they’ve got to see six dozen headlines in which their win is joined by the words: “Roman Polanski also a big winner!” I guess it could be worse? “Woody Allen nabs bronze!” Yeah, that would be worse.
Last week we learned that everybody loved Joker when it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival. It received an 8-minute standing ovation, and people started Oscar buzzing about Joaquin getting a Best Actor nomination. And apparently people really did love it as much as was reported, because The Hollywood Reporter says that on Saturday night, Joker was awarded the top prize, the Golden Lion. However, Joaquin lost out on Venice’s Best Actor award (it went to Luca Marinelli for Martin Eden). Last year’s Golden Lion winner was Roma, with The Shape of Water the year before that.
Todd Phillips thanked Warner Bros., DC, and Joaquin Phoenix while accepting the biggest award of the evening:
“Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie. There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and bravest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent.”
That melodic-sounding crying you hear is Jared Leto, after realizing that the closest he’ll ever get to getting thanked like that is if they move the Razzies to Venice.
Venice is considered one of the Big Three international film festivals (the others are Cannes and the Berlin International Film Festival). Joker missed Berlin and Cannes, but is scheduled to screen tonight at TIFF, which will qualify it for another possible film festival award. That’s a pretty good start for a movie that sounds like a 30 Rock plot line come-to-life. An industry-respected indie actor signs up for the millionth Batman villain origin story written and directed by the guy who made Road Trip and Starsky & Hutch, then proceeds to become the front-runner for the Oscars. Eh, I guess that’s a better outcome than an 8-minute jeer of boos, which sends it direct-to-streaming and becomes beloved by incels.
But onto the Silver Lion winner. Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy was the runner-up winner. Roman wasn’t there (for obvious reasons) to accept his award. His wife Emmanuelle Seigner accepted on his behalf.
Some people aren’t able to separate the art from the artist, because they can’t turn off their brain from thinking, “Who directed this again? Ah yes, that creep.” The voters at Venice are able to though. And according to jury president Lucrecia Martel, it was important to screen An Officer and a Spy. Because their intention wasn’t to endorse a sex offender, but to open a dialog about said sex offender. Although Lucrecia claimed she wouldn’t be clapping.
“I have to say that it won’t be easy for me, and that’s why it’s certain that I will not attend Mr. Polanski’s gala, because I represent many women who are fighting in Argentina on these types of issues. And I don’t want to have to stand up and clap. But I think it is correct that Polanski’s film is here at this festival because it’s a dialogue we won’t give up on, and this is the best possible place to go deep on this type of discussion.”
And that discussion ended with the words, “And the Silver Lion goes to….“. Discussion over, The End! I just feel like there was a real missed opportunity for the Venice Film Festival here. They knew Roman wouldn’t be able to pick up his award personally, so you would think they might have asked for someone else to sub in and accept on his behalf. His wife shouldn’t have to do all of Roman’s heavy lifting. Hey, since Venice was more than happy to hand the award to a dude who has a yucky history with minors, maybe next time they could ask Kevin Spacey! Plus, they know for sure he won’t get stopped on his way to Italy.
Here’s more of Todd and Joaquin at the awards ceremony on Saturday night.