Leading the pack at this year’s Academy Awards® with 11 nominations, including Best Picture, is the gritty crime-drama Joker, directed, co-written, and produced by Todd Phillips. You may think you know the man behind the face paint, but Joker is anything but a retread of previous characterizations of the Clown Prince of Crime nor is it just a cog in the wheel of a much larger, expanded universe.
Arthur Fleck seeks connection. Yet, as the lonesome man traverses a hostile Gotham City teeming with division and dissatisfaction, he wears two masks. One he paints on for his day job as a clown, to be removed at the end of each shift. The other he can never remove; it’s the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel he’s part of the world around him instead of just the misunderstood man whom life repeatedly beats down. Through this social outlier’s personal and professional struggles, he becomes even more out of sync with everyone around him.
Phillips and Scott Silver set out to write an original, standalone origin story based in realism, and they wrote it with Joaquin Phoenix in mind. Phoenix’s inspired performance has already earned the acclaimed actor a Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild Award®, and he’ll be looking to take home his first Oscar® at the 92nd Academy Awards® on February 9th.
We’ve organized a guide to each of Joker’s 11 Academy Award® nominations, complete with brief histories of the categories and nominee’s careers. If you get the urge to watch Joaquin Phoenix’s award-winning performance on the big screen a second time, or perhaps for the very first time, you’re in luck! Regal is bringing Joker back as part of our 2020 Best Picture Film Festival.
The Academy Award® for Best Picture is considered the most prestigious honor awarded during the ceremony. The award is presented to the producers of the movie, and it is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible to submit a nomination and vote on the final ballot.
Todd Phillips records his fourth Academy Award® nomination, with three coming this year for Joker. Bradley Cooper receives his eighth Academy Award® nomination and third as a producer. Emma Tillinger Koskoff also records her third nomination, all as a producer in this category.
Officially known as the Academy Award® of Merit for Directing, this award honors the achievements of a movie director who has exhibited outstanding directing in the film industry. The award has been giving annually since its inception at the 1st Academy Awards® in 1929 and is closely tied with the Best Picture category. In fact, of the 91 movies awarded the Best Picture, 65 have also been awarded Best Director.
Todd Phillips’ directing credits include comedy classics like Old School (2003), Starsky & Hutch (2004), and The Hangover (2009). With Joker, the acclaimed filmmaker deviated from his typical, lighthearted work and received his first Academy Award® nomination for Directing.
The Academy Award® for Best Actor honors the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role. Initially, all of an actor’s work during the qualifying period was listed (in some cases, in as many as three movies), but since 1931, actors are nominated for a specific performance in a single movie. Traditionally, the award is presented by the previous year’s Best Actress winner.
Joaquin Phoenix receives his fourth Academy Award® nomination and third for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role after Walk the Line (2005) and The Master (2012). His first career nomination came for a supporting role in Gladiator (2000) opposite the 2001 Academy Award® winner for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Russell Crowe. Phoenix will be looking for his first win at this year’s ceremony in which he has pulled away from the pack as one of the favorites after taking home the Golden Globe® and Screen Actors Guild awards.
The Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay is presented annually to the writer of a screenplay adapted from another source. Novels (aka long-form prose) are the most frequently adapted media, with other narrative formats including plays, musicals, other theatrical work, short stories, TV series, and even other movies. The category dates back to the 1st Academy Awards® in 1927.
Todd Phillips receives his second career nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, having previously shared a nomination with Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, and Dan Mazer for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006).
Scott Silver also records his second career nomination in the category for which he was recognized in 2011 alongside Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington for The Fighter.
The Academy Award® for Best Cinematography is awarded annually to a cinematographer for work on one particular movie. Much like the acting categories, all of a nominee’s work in the qualifying period was listed until 1931. Separate awards for color and black-and-white cinematography were given from 1939 through 1967, with the exception of 1957, and since then, only two black-and-white movies have taken home the award.
Lawrence Sher receives his first Academy Award® nomination. He has worked as the director of photography on Todd Phillips’ last six movies—Joker (2019), War Dogs (2016), The Hangover Part III (2013), The Hangover Part II (2011), Due Date (2010), and The Hangover (2009).
The Academy Award® for Best Costume Design was first given in 1949 at the 21st Academy Awards®. The category had two subcategories, one for black-and-white and one for color movies, from 1948 through 1966, excluding 1957 and 1958. To be eligible for the award, a movie’s costumes must have been “conceived” by a costume designer, among a series of other criteria.
Mark Bridges receives his fourth career Academy Award® nomination, winning in 2012 for his work on The Artist and again in 2018 for Phantom Thread.
The Academy Award for Best Makeup was created in 1981, and since 1993, the award has been shared with hairstylists if the hair effects “contribute greatly to the appearance and effect of the characters,” resulting in the competitive category’s now official title of Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Generally, three movies are nominated each year, with the exception of only two in the early 1980s and 2002 and four in 1999. However, beginning this year with the 92nd Academy Awards®, five movies share in the nominations.
This is Nicki Ledermann’s first Academy Award® nomination. She has previously worked in the makeup department for The Devil Wears Prada (2006) and The Greatest Showman (2017), among others. Kay Georgiou also receives her first Academy Award® nomination after previously working on movies including The Patriot (2000) and True Grit (2010).
The Academy Award® for Best Original Score honors the best substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the movie by the submitting composer. The category started in 1935 under the name Best Scoring, and after a controversial win for a movie without a credited composer that featured pre-existing classical music, the Academy added the Best Original Score award in 1939. In 1942, the two scoring categories were renamed Best Music Score of a Dramatic Picture and Best Scoring of a Musical Picture, a distinction that technically remains today, though there haven’t been enough submissions for the musical category to be activated since 1985.
Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir receives her first Academy Award® nomination. She composed her first feature-length movie in 2011 and has since written, performed, and/or composed music for The Revenant (2015), Arrival (2016), and Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018).
The Academy Award for Best Film Editing began in 1934. The competitive category, whose name has changed slightly through the years, shares a close correlation with the category of Best Picture. In fact, for 33 consecutive years (1981-2013), every Best Picture winner was also nominated for Film Editing, with roughly two thirds of the Best Picture winners also won for Film Editing.
Jeff Groth receives his first Academy Award® nomination since making his debut as editor in 1999. He frequently collaborates with Todd Phillips, having edited each of Phillips’ last three movies—Joker (2019), War Dogs (2016), and The Hangover Part III (2013).
The Academy Award® for Sound Mixing honors the finest or most euphonic sound mixing or recording and is generally awarded to the production sound mixers and re-recording mixers of a movie. The award has been given annually since its inception in 1930 at the 3rd Academy Awards®.
This marks Tom Ozanich’s second career nomination and Dean A. Zupancic’s third. The two previously shared a nomination with Jason Ruder and Steven Morrow for another Bradley Cooper-produced movie, A Star Is Born (2018). Tod A. Maitland records his fourth nomination spanning four decades. All of Maitland’s previous nominations have been shared on movies that were also nominated for Best Picture—Born on the Fourth of July (1989), JFK (1991), Seabiscuit (2003), and now Joker (2019).
The Academy Award® for Best Sound Editing honors the finest or most aesthetic sound design or sound editing, the creation of sound effects such as foley. The supervising sound editors of a movie receive the award, sometimes accompanied by the sound designers.
Alan Robert Murray records his tenth career nomination for Editing, with his first three coming for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing. He has won the Academy Award® for Best Achievement in Sound Editing twice, sharing the honor with Bub Asman both times for their work on Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) and American Sniper (2014). Both wins came for movies that were also nominated for Best Picture, with the latter produced by Joker producer Bradley Cooper.