Joaquin Phoenix stars in Joker, which took home the top prize at the Venice Film Festival Saturday. (Warner Bros.)
Director Todd Phillips’ dark drama Joker about the origins of the villainous character won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday.
Joaquin Phoenix, who won rave reviews from critics at the festival, plays Batman’s nemesis, and follows his transformation from a vulnerable loner into the confident villain.
In the last two years, the winner of the prestigious prize has also gone on to score major accolades during awards season — namely Roma (which took home best foreign language film and best director at the 2019 Oscars) and The Shape of Water (which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2018).
Roman Polanski’s military drama An Officer and a Spy took the runner-up Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize.
Polanski, who fled the U.S. after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl and has been a fugitive for over 40 years, was not at the ceremony to accept the award.
The inclusion of An Officer and a Spy among the 21 films competing for the Golden Lion was widely criticized, although it was welcomed warmly by Venice Film Festival audiences.