Joker's Trick: Todd Phillips' Joker Takes Home the Highest Honor at the Venice Film Festival

The Joker loves to dance, I guess?
The Joker loves to dance, I guess?
Image: Warner Bros.

Inspirer of meme accounts and Blockbuster films alike, the Joker has a new honor to lay at his unstable feet: film festival winner. That’s right, seriously, it happened: Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the DC supervillain, won the Golden Lion, the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.


The film, which premiered at the festival, is now the highest honored movie of the 76 edition of the oldest film festival in the world. Previous honoreers include Rashomon, Brokeback Mountain, and Roma.

It’s an unusual victory for a comic book film, though, for a dramatic title that owes massively to Taxi Driver and stars an auteur’s actor like Joaquin Phoenix, it’s a little less surprising. Accepting the award, director Todd Phillips thanked Warner Bros and DC, “for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking such a bold swing on me and this movie,” and his star, saying, “There is no movie without Joaquin Phoenix. Joaquin is the fiercest and brightest and most open-minded lion I know. Thank you for trusting me with your insane talent.”

Before you go praising Venice’s wisdom and cultural progressiveness in giving a superhero movie the award, though, you should know that convicted rapist Roman Polanski won the second place Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize. Gross. Maybe let’s just cancel all of this, on second thought.

Joker premieres October 4th in the United States.

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So you’re saying Roman Polanski... came in a little behind?