Los Angeles: Hollywood star Joaquin Phoenix finally ended his dry run at the Oscars as he picked up the best actor trophy for his performance in and as “Joker” at the 92nd Academy Awards. The 45-year-old actor had earlier bagged a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his turn as a failed, unhinged stand-up comedian who descends into chaos.
In a lengthy and rambling speech, Phoenix touched upon racism, climate change and gender inequality. He also remembered his brother River Phoenix, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 23 in 1993. ‘When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘run to the rescue with love and peace will follow’,” Phoenix said.
At the Academy Awards and the entire Hollywood award season, Phoenix had emerged as an undisputed frontrunner even though he was up against the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”), Adam Driver (“Marriage Story”), “Antonio Banderas (“Pain & Glory”) and Jonathan Pryce (“The Two Popes”).
An Oscar had eluded Phoenix for the most part of his career, despite his successful collaborations with Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”), James Mangold (“Walk The Line”) and Paul Thomas Anderson (“The Master”), all of which had earned him nominations. But as Arthur Fleck aka The Joker, Phoenix finally managed to break that jinx and became the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the DC comic book villain after the posthumous best supporting actor win to Heath Ledger in 2008.
As Joker, Phoenix took a deep dive into character, capturing its essence as well as maniacal spirit in both body and soul. He lost 52 pounds to get into the physicality of Fleck and turned to a pathological disorder to get his distinct laughter right. Phillips wrote the part keeping Phoenix in mind though the actor took some convincing to play the role.
Phoenix started the film’s festival circuit tour on a positive note at Cannes last year that followed by stops at Venice and Toronto. The film had also courted controversies, owing to its theme of gun violence in the movie as well as Phoenix’s temperamental press tour that saw him walking out of an interview midway.
But critics and the fans loved the actor’s riveting turn in the movie and his pointed speeches. At the Golden Globes, he called out the industry for its insensitivity towards climate change and pulled up his peers for using private jets for travel, while at the SAGs, he joked how he would always lose a role to DiCaprio and asked Christian Bale to deliver a bad performance for once in his career.
In his acceptance speech at the BAFTAs, Phoenix acknowledged the lack of diversity in the nominations, calling himself a part of the problem. Phoenix’s career most praised performances include “Signs “, “We Own the Night”, “Two Lovers”, “The Immigrant”, “Her”, “You Were Never Really Here” and “Inherent Vice”.