Venice Crowns Joker

The Venice Film Festival has drawn to a close and the awards bestowed today are sure to generate some controversy. The Golden Lion prize (equivalent to Best Picture) has gone to Joker, with its acclaimed performance from Joaquin Phoenix as the iconic villain. It won out over numerous foreign titles and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which drew raves and is anticipated to be a major Oscar contender.

A year ago, the Lion went to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which nabbed multiple Academy nominations including Picture. In 2017, the recipient was the eventual Oscar Pic winner – Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water.

I didn’t have Joker predicted as a nominee for the past couple weeks. Does the Venice action change the dynamic? Well it’s certainly a boost. I’m still skeptical it will make the final cut, but this publicity and its expected massive box office will be feathers in its cap.

Perhaps an even bigger shocker was the winner for the Grand Jury prize – essentially the runner up spot. It went to Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. Controversy surrounding the filmmaker is not the only reason for prognosticators being surprised. The pic currently sports a middling 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unlike last year’s Jury winner The Favourite, don’t expect this to be in the Oscar derby.

Acting races also showcased performers not on the Academy radar. Luca Marinelli took Best Actor for Martin Eden and Ariane Ascaride was named top Actress for Sweden’s About Endlessness. That film also saw its director Roy Andersson victorious in his race. A nod for Best International Feature is feasible for it.

All in all, Venice gave Joker a hoped for ace up its sleeve in precursor activity. Let’s see if momentum continues to grow…

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