“Black Panther” proved to be an Oscars game-changer in 2019 when it became the first comic book movie nominated for Best Picture. Now “Joker” has done it again in 2020. For the second year in a row, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has nominated a comic book film for Best Picture. “Black Panther” earned seven Oscar nominations last year (Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing), and “Joker” earned 11 Oscar nominations this year (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing). “Joker” is now the most nominated comic book film in Oscars history.
“Joker” has proven to be an awards powerhouse since world premiering at the Venice Film Festival, where it took home the Golden Lion. “Joker” was singled out by the American Film Institute as one of the best motion pictures of 2019. At the Golden Globes, “Joker” was nominated for four prizes (including Best Picture and Best Director for Todd Phillips) and won Joaquin Phoenix the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Phoenix is also nominated at the Screen Actors Guild awards and is considered one of the frontrunners to win the Oscars. “Joker” also scored 11 BAFTA nominations, more than any other films this year, and several nominations from various film guilds.
“Black Panther” took home three Oscars: Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, and Best Production Design. Will “Joker” have similar success on Oscars night? It helps that the movie is easily the highest grossing movie nominated for Best Picture. With over $1 billion worldwide, “Joker” is the most profitable comic book movie ever made. Phillips has credited the film’s pro-empathy message with turning it into a global blockbuster.
“I think there are themes in the movie that really resonated with people. None of us thought an R-rated movie could do over $1 billion across the world,” Phillips told Deadline. “The thing I set out to do when we wrote the movie together was to make something meaningful in that comic book space, but also something really that addressed what was going on in 2016, when we started writing. It’s pretty obvious what was happening in our country in 2017 while we were writing it, and really wanted to use Joker to make a movie about the loss of compassion and the lack of decorum in the world.”
The Academy had long been resistant to nominating comic book films for its major categories. Not even Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” arguably the most critically acclaimed comic book film ever made, received nominations for Best Picture or Best Director. The outcry over the Oscar snubbing “The Dark Knight” for Best Picture is credited for leading the Academy to expand the Best Picture field from five nominees to 10 and then a preferential system. The only other recent comic book film to break through at the Oscars is “Logan,” which was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The 2020 Oscars are to set to take place Sunday, February 9.