Todd Phillips’ dark comic book film “Joker” took home the Golden Lion Award at the 76th Venice International Film Festival on Saturday and rest assured, it will be a mainstay in the rest of the award season.
Jury president Lucretia Martel revealed the winners of the prestigious award in a grand ceremony on the Lido. The Golden Lion previously put a lot of weight 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 take this opportunity to thank Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this film,” Phillips said in his speech with star Joaquin Phoenix by his side on stage.
However, Phoenix did not win the best actor award — it was bagged by Italian actor Luca Marinelli for the Jack London adaptation “Martin Eden” — but the maker of “Joker” dedicated much of his speech to the displays of his leading man.
In the film, he changes from battling stand-up comic Arthur Fleck into Batman’s exemplary foe. “Much thanks to you for confiding in me with your crazy gifts,” Phillips said to Phoenix.
Roman Polanski’s Dreyfus affair film, “An Officer and a Spy,” won the grand jury prize, which is an honorable mention to other strong contenders for the Golden Lion.
Polanski, who fled the U.S. after admitting to the charges of having 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.
Toby Wallace won the best new talent prize for his character in Shannon Murphy’s “Babyteeth.”
“It’s unbelievable to be here in general, so everything extra is super nice,” Wallace told.