The Joker has finally been released and oddly enough, the movie-going public is still trying to figure out what to make of it and where the film stands in award season.
With just as many lingering questions after its release, where can we look for answers?
Some answers may lie with films with a similar release date. One movie that it can be compared to is one that also had a stellar cast and incredible trailer, Gravity. This film was released on October 4, 2013 with what was at the time, the biggest October opening ever. Only three films have surpassed their record with the latest being Joker. At the time of release, Gravity became an early favorite for numerous awards and was nominated for ten Oscars, with a Best Actress nom for Sandra Bullock, going on to win seven Oscars including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron.
Scientific inaccuracies aside, the momentum Gravity built going into the awards season was massive but could not topple the juggernaut that was 12 Years a Slave.
Another early October release was last season’s A Star is Born. With possibly even more star power than Gravity, the Bradley Cooper directed film had incredible momentum heading in to the awards season. Eight nominations and a 400 million dollar profit later, A Star was delayed with the film only winning one Academy Award. Tales about the disaster of an awards season campaign run by the filmmakers began to spread throughout the internet and became a major discussion point on podcasts. Left Oscar-less, Bradley Cooper may have had his last shot ruined by a horrific award campaign.
Looking at our upcoming season, Joker seems to have similar momentum to these two iconic films.
What is left to see is how the studio will push to keep the momentum alive. With a star in Joaquin Phoenix, who has had issues with award seasons in the past, (including calling the Oscars “total and utter bullshit”), the face of the campaign may have to be the film’s director, Todd Phillips. An example of a similar campaign with a director leading the charge was the incredibly successful Roma.
The upcoming award season is gearing up to be as wide open as last year, which could be both a positive and a negative for the Joker.
The open field may allow Phoenix to finally rise as one of the greatest actors of his generation, but may also allow another to snatch up the award if the award season does not go well.