I’ve had a sinking feeling in the last week or two, so I finally pulled the trigger in my Golden Globe predictions for Best Film Drama: “Joker” will upset front-runner “The Irishman.” Here are my top five reasons why.
1. Todd Phillips’s shocking Best Director nomination
Few of us awards pundits expected to see “Joker” in the race for Phillips’s work behind the camera. It’s a huge show of support for the film that demonstrates that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks it’s more than just a vehicle for Joaquin Phoenix‘s showy performance as a supervillain in the making.
2. That makes it the only film in the category that significantly exceeded our expectations
Granted, “The Two Popes” also did better than expected, earning four nominations — the same number “Joker” has — but it was at least on the bubble in all of the categories it got. Phillips was one of the few 100/1 underdogs in our predictions who made the cut, and he did it over big names like Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Fernando Meirelles (“Two Popes”), Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”) and Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story”). Speaking of which …
3. Its rivals under-performed in the nominations
Other contenders for Best Film Drama missed out in one category or another, which may signal weaker support from the HFPA. “Marriage Story” has the most nominations (six) but the aforementioned Baumbach was left out for his directing. “The Irishman” has five, but the man who plays the Irishman, Robert De Niro, wasn’t nominated for Best Film Drama Actor. We weren’t necessarily expecting writing or acting nominations for “1917,” but they might have helped. And “Two Popes,” like “Marriage,” didn’t get its director in despite Meirelles being a past nominee for “The Constant Gardener.”
4. It’s all about the Benjamins
Just like last year’s upset winner for Best Film Drama, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Joker” is a massive financial success story despite mixed reviews. It grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, which isn’t usually a surprise for a film based on comic books, but it is a surprise for an R-rated revisionist take that resembles “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy” more than, say, “The Dark Knight.”
5. It’s a proven hit with international awards voters, winning the Venice Film Festival
“Joker” got off to a good start on the awards campaign trail when it won the Golden Lion in Venice. That prize was decided by a jury that included film professionals from Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Japan, France and, of course, Italy. The international journalists who make up the HFPA might also gravitate to it more than the divided critical response might indicate.
What do you think? Am I foolish for going out on this limb? Or might “Joker” really get the last laugh?
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