‘Joker’ Just Got One Step Closer to Landing Oscar Nominations

Joker always felt like a longshot. An R-rated comic book movie from the director of The Hangover trilogy featuring the most iconic supervillain? Of course Warner Bros. was skeptical about the film’s box office prospects.

Those worries turned out to be unwarranted, however. Joker has not only earned $1.1 billion worldwide, outgrossing just about every other DC Comics film ever made. The film might be about to bring in some Oscar gold for its studio.

Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix at the premiere of 'Joker'
Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix at the premiere of ‘Joker’ | Rich Fury/Getty Images

‘Joker’ is still riding a wave of buzz

More than two months have passed since Joker‘s theatrical debut. Yet, against all odds, fans are still talking about the film. Director Todd Phillips’ vision is a comic book movie stripped of all the flourishes we’ve come to expect from the genre. So, in a year that gave us Avengers: Endgame, it naturally stands out.

Among critics, Joker proved to be somewhat divisive, with many pointing out the questionable social commentary. However, even those who didn’t lavish praise on the film conceded that some elements work regardless. Most notably, Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as the mentally ill Arthur Fleck — who rebels against society to become the Joker — earned the actor rave reviews.

But more than that, people pointed out the technical aspects behind the film. And little by little, Joker is being acknowledged as one of the most-talked-about and successful films of the year. In fact, this groundswell of support bodes increasingly well for it going into Oscar season.

Why the movie is closer to Oscar nominations

The Oscar nominations won’t even be announced until Jan. 13. But the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has already begun to narrow down which films could be big winners on Oscar night. To that end, the Academy has revealed shortlists for nine key categories, two of which include Joker.

Of the Oscar shortlists announced, Joker remains in play for Music (Original Score) as well as Makeup and Hairstyling. Considering these two elements are among those most often cited as highlights of the film, we’re not surprised to see Joker made the cut. In fact, nominations in both categories are a fairly safe bet.

Of course, the makeup and hairstyling in Joker are integral to the character’s iconic look. In particular, Phoenix’s makeup does a lot to sell his performance and ground his character in a kind of unhinged reality.

Likewise, Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score truly sets the mood for Arthur’s descent into madness. In many ways, Joker is a very musical film — with two extended dance sequences — and the score is the foundation for that.

Other Academy Awards it could win

Joker will almost certainly receive nominations for its original score and makeup/hairstyling. But these two more technical categories don’t even account for the movie’s best chances to become an Oscar winner. After all, the Academy Awards recognizes achievements across a total of 24 categories.

So which other categories does Joker have a legitimate shot at? Phoenix is easily a lock for a nomination for Best Actor. In the end, the actor’s stiffest competition is probably Marriage Story‘s Adam Driver.

Beyond that, Joker just might sneak into the Best Picture race. Phillips could conceivably earn a Best Director nod, though that’s less likely. And the movie also has a solid chance of getting nods for its costume design, cinematography, and editing.

A lot can change between now and when nominations are announced in January 2020. So we won’t know for certain how well Joker does until that time comes. But right now, things are looking pretty good for the Clown Prince of Crime.