Tonight, when 60 Minutes airs its Anderson Cooper interview with mercurial actor Joaquin Phoenix, it should cap a critically robust seven-day run for Todd Phillips’s Joker. It started final Sunday evening, when Phoenix picked up the Golden Globe for greatest actor in a drama for his darkly hypnotic efficiency within the Warner Bros movie, whereas Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir took house a Globe of her personal for greatest unique rating.
Over the subsequent three days, Joker constructed extra trophy momentum by including 11 BAFTA nominations (probably the most for any movie on this 12 months’s area); a PGA nomination (as one of many 10 movies vying for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award); and a WGA nomination for the outstanding script written by Phillips & Scott Silver.
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The controversial film’s resonance isn’t restricted to the Hollywood awards circuit, both. Joker was launched 101 days in the past amid anxieties about its malevolent imagery. However that solely added to the edgy aura of a movie that promised to reframe the origin story of the Joker, probably the most iconic super-villain in comedian e book historical past, and a display character who already rivaled Hannibal Lecter, Michael Myers, and Norman Bates amongst Hollywood’s most celebrated homicidal maniacs. The end result: Joker now stands as the primary billion-dollar R-rated film in box-office historical past.
Joker additionally continued to burrow into the zeitgeist in fascinating methods . This previous week, for example, Burger King premiered a brand new business spoofing the movie’s signature scene on the Bronx Stairs. The quirky advert gives free Whoppers to New Yorkers for placing up with all of the vacationers now flocking to the landmark to reenact Phoenix’s precarious, stair-stepping jig from the film.
Phoenix himself began this weekend with the sound of handcuffs (the 45-year-old native was arrested Friday in Washington, D.C. throughout a local weather change political protest) and finishes it amid grim information dispatches from his native Puerto Rico. The information shifts again to Joker come Monday morning, nevertheless, with nominations arriving for the 91st Academy Awards.
Past the movie’s Oscar future on Feb. 9, the large query surrounding Joker is the viability of a sequel. Certainly one of Phoenix’s early impetuses to make Joker was his want to analyze the chances of a graphic novel character with out signing up for multi-film franchise obligation. The venture’s one-and-done mindset was creatively liberating for all concerned. However, no shock, that mindset has been reevaluated amid the film’s historic success.
One week in the past, on the Globes, Phoenix took a incorrect flip backstage and ended up within the press interview room. The subject shortly turned to the standing of a Joker sequel, a topic that’s been persistent for the reason that film’s triumphant September premiere on the Venice Movie Pageant. The query: Does Phoenix assume the continued hypothesis concerning a follow-up movie in any manner undermines the prevailing movie’s creative achievement? The actor bristled. “What do you imply? Why? I dont assume I’ve ever executed too many predictable issues.”
Phoenix has appeared in three dozen characteristic movies since his baby actor days within the 1980s, however not a single a type of tasks is a sequel or prequel. The maverick-minded performer sounds open to the prospect of Joker 2, however much less snug with anybody questioning his motivations within the course of.
“So, if that got here up, it’s not as a result of Todd [Phillips, the director] or I are following some rule e book. It’s as a result of we really feel impressed once more to discover the character extra completely. That’d be the one motive for me to do it.
Honest sufficient. However the executives over at Warner Bros can consider a few billion different causes for Phillips and Phoenix to revisit the mad world of Joker.
The movie ranks third among the many all-time highest-grossing DC Comics diversifications. Joker’s $1.06 billion worldwide trails solely James Wan’s Aquaman ($1.44 billion) and Christopher Nolan’s The Darkish Knight Rises ($1.08 billion), and people had been each large PG-13 spectacles with manufacturing budgets of $160 million and $250 million, respectively. The stripped-down Joker, in the meantime, was made for a lean $55 million, and delivered plenty of box-office bang for the buck.
Will a sequel occur? In all probability. When Deadline’s Anthony D’Allesandro put the query to Phillips at The Contenders New York occasion, the filmmaker gave the impression of somebody ready to be persuaded. “Joaquin and I haven’t actually selected it,” Phillips stated. “We’re open. I imply, I’d like to work with him on something, fairly frankly. So who is aware of?”
Phoenix could but add an Academy Award to the rising record of Joker’s accolades. However the billion-dollar hit already qualifies as a triumph of reinvention for Phillips. The Brooklyn native spent the earlier decade-and-a-half establishing himself as a Hollywood king of comedy (delivering hits like The Hangover trilogy, Previous Faculty, Street Journey, and Due Date) earlier than making a critical detour into Taxi Driver territory with Joker and its unhinged portrait of Arthur Fleck, aka the Joker.
Over the vacations, I talked to Phillips concerning the Joker screenplay for an article about its framing of psychological well being points, and he mused concerning the wild trip since Joker gained the Golden Lion on the Venice Movie Pageant.
“You by no means actually know the way it’s going to finish up,” Phillips stated of Joker, which he produced with Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff. “The one factor we might say to one another once we had been making selections whereas writing it — and it was the factor that Joaquin and I might additionally say to one another once we confronted issues on the set or questions [from] the crew — was: ‘When unsure, let’s simply be daring.’ And that actually appeared to serve this film properly.”
The let-it-fly perspective towards Joker was doable as a result of the venture was unfettered by any pre-existing mythology. There was zero stress to adapt to any of the character’s recognizable traits or traditions.
“The one factor I’ll say about Warners is that when they agreed to the idea of the movie, they actually allow us to do what we wished. It wasn’t like, ‘Effectively, you may’t try this,” or “Ensure you put this a part of the lore in.” They actually allow us to have at it. That makes it actually a lot enjoyable. The probabilities are limitless. You may actually do something.”
That’s an instructive level for anybody who wonders why the impassioned Martin Scorsese singled out Marvel Studios for public criticism, versus, say, condemning all the superhero style. It’s not the capes and masks that offend Scorsese’s sensibilities. It’s the Marvel technique of interconnecting all of its films in service of 1 open-ended saga.
The advantage of that strategy might be described because the “ceaselessly sequel” impact (followers embrace new franchises as a result of their heroes and tales are already acquainted), and it helps clarify Marvel’s good streak of 23 consecutive No. 1 openings. The draw back, in Scorsese’s view, is the institutional elimination of “something goes” auteur filmmaking.
“What’s not there may be revelation, thriller, or real emotional hazard,” Scorsese wrote within the New York Occasions about Marvel’s technique. “Nothing is in danger. The images are made to fulfill a selected set of calls for, and they’re designed as variations on a finite variety of themes.”
Phillips had no real interest in becoming a member of the talk about Scorsese vs Marvel. “It by no means ceases to amaze me the issues that individuals get outraged over,” he stated with a resigned chuckle. “You must be actually cautious, which is why I sound like I’m selecting my phrases fastidiously.”
Philips, fortuitously, was in additional of a risk-taking mode when he introduced Joker to life on the web page, then on the set, and eventually on the display..
“Whether or not folks appreciated Joker or didn’t like Joker, I believe they appreciated its boldness,” Phillips stated. “I believe plenty of the flicks persons are speaking about, whether or not it’s Jojo Rabbit or Uncut Gems, they really feel like daring swings. And Parasite, that film is wonderful, and The Farewell was, I assumed, actually daring. That’s the way in which to chop by the noise, and persons are prepared for it. Audiences are extra hip to it, typically greater than the studios give them credit score for, too, and that’s what I believe I realized from this expertise.”
The trickiest a part of a sequel could be reconnecting with the anything-goes spirit of the primary movie and discovering a narrative that would match the primary version’s transformative energy. There’s additionally the matter of competing Gotham metropolis visions, akin to subsequent month’s Birds of Prey (centered on Margot Robbie’s dangerous-but-daft Harley Quinn) and subsequent 12 months’s The Batman (which introduces Robert Pattinson because the Caped Crusader).
Phillips stated the absence of any earlier backstory was each “probably the most daunting factor about doing the Joker story and in addition probably the most thrilling factor about doing the Joker story.” It doesn’t matter what occurs with the doable sequel, revisiting the story of Joker ensures that Phillips can’t say the identical about factor the subsequent one.