The Oscars have historically shut out comic book films, with only a few having ever pushed themselves through the cracks of the Academy Awards. Most notably, as of late, Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for his portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight and Black Panther’s handful of nominations from last year comes to mind. For the most part, though, the superhero genre is largely ignored because of its typical blockbuster format.
This year might finally be the year that all changes, however, as Todd Phillips’ Joker leads the pack with 11 nominations. And it deserves to win every single one of them.
It’s no secret that I’m a hardcore fan of this film. Regardless of my love for the movie, the backlash to Joker’s nominations doesn’t make any sense. Just because it’s a film based on comic books doesn’t mean it has to be like others in the genre. In fact, it does just as good a job, or even better at telling the story it wants to convey as other films. Every category it’s getting a nod for, from makeup to best picture, it deserves.
Costume design, as well as makeup and hairstyling, are a given. This version of the Joker is already iconic because its own unique take on the character honored the Clown Prince of Crime. It’s already even rivaling Ledger’s version for amount of Halloween interpretations, which yes, I may have been guilty of doing this past October.
Sound editing and sound mixing are almost a given as well. The score, the harsh undertones during Arthur’s breakdowns — it’s a dynamic mix of enlightening and haunting. The juxtaposition of songs and white noises that will continue to ring in your head are some of the best ever to be presented in film.
The cinematography is brilliant, concise and meaningful in everything shown on the screen. Every shot of Arthur’s pained cackles, to the now-iconic image of him dancing down the steps in his full makeup and suit, Joker is essentially moving art. The film editing, along with that, flows naturally and in a way that conveys the plot while holding the attention of viewers.
And, of course, we have the dynamic duo of Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips. Phoenix is Arthur Fleck; he is the Joker, there’s no doubt about that. What he does in this film takes Ledger’s commitment to the comic role, and applies it to fully realizing a realistic take on what is usually an ultra-fictional character. His performance is unnerving, yet also relatable and one that perfectly encapsulates society’s ignorance toward one man’s mental illness.
Through Phoenix’s acting and Phillips’ directing, Joker doesn’t feel like a comic book film. It feels more like a beautiful rendition of a story that could be all too real in our world. It honors the characters that fans have come to know and love, but also uses them to tell a story and relay a message that need and deserve to be heard, especially today.
The fact that it doesn’t play as a traditional comic book film is exactly why it’s worthy of winning any of the Oscars it’s been nominated for. The way it takes the superhero genre and flips it on its head in terms of what the movies are capable of doing is why it deserves every single one of these Academy Awards. It exceeds in each of these areas, and of course, then is worthy of even winning best picture this year.
Do other films deserve any array of these awards as well? Yes. But, do not disregard Joker just because it’s based on a crazed clown from a comic book about a guy dressed up like a bat.
Jackson Horvat is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Jackson by tweeting him at @horvatjackson.