Todd Phillips' 'Joker' Wins Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Film Festival

September 7, 2019
Source: Biennale

Joker Venice

Send in the clowns. The 76th Venice Film Festival wrapped up this weekend on the Lido, and the awards were handed out. The top prize at Venice is a Golden Lion (in honor of the iconic lion that is the symbol of the city) and it's one of the greatest achievements in cinema, along with the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. This year's big winner is Joker, the dark, gnarly, unlike-anything-before-it audacious comic book movie starring Joaquin Phoenix as the green-haired Gotham City villain. Other winners include an Italian actor named Luca Marinelli, who stars in the title role of Martin Eden, a major film which many critics loved here. And the young actor from the Australian film Babyteeth, named Toby Wallace, even though his co-star Eliza Scanlen didn't win (though she deserved to share this with him). All the winners are amusing and it makes me laugh because they're bold choices. The full list of Venezia 76 winners can be found below.

Main Venice Awards

The Venezia Jury, chaired by Lucrecia Martel, and comprised of Stacy Martin, Mary Harron, Piers Handling, Rodrigo Prieto, Shinya Tsukamoto, and Paolo Virzì, having viewed all 21 films in competition, has decided:

Golden Lion for Best Film:
Joker by Todd Phillips (USA)

Silver Lion Grand Jury Prize:
J'Accuse (An Officer and a Spy) by Roman Polanski (France, Italy)

Silver Lion Award for Best Director:
Roy Andersson for the film About Endlessness

Coppa Volpi for Best Actress:
Ariane Ascaride in the film Gloria Mundi by Robert Guédiguian

Coppa Volpi for Best Actor:
Luca Marinelli in the film Martin Eden by Pietro Marcello

Award for Best Screenplay:
Yonfan for No. 7 Cherry Lane

Special Jury Prize:
The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used to Be by Franco Maresco

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor or Actress:
Toby Wallace in the film Babyteeth by Shannon Murphy

"Luigi De Laurentiis" Venice Award for a Debut Film:
You Will Die at 20 by Amjad Abu Alala

Venice Classics Awards

The Venice Classics Jury, chaired by Costanza Quatriglio, with 22 cinema history students – nominated by their professors – from Italian universities, DAMS performing arts courses, and Ca' Foscari University of Venice, has decided to award:

Venice Classics Award for Best Documentary on Cinema:
Babenco: Tell Me When I Die by Bárbara Paz

Venice Classics Award for Best Restored Film:
Ecstasy (Ekstase) by Gustav Machatý (Czechoslovakia, 1932)

That's all for now. For the full list of awards (including VR), head to Congratulations to all of the winners this year. As for my thoughts on these winners: ahahahahahahahaha, oh it's hilarious!! Is Joker the BEST film of the festival? Nope. (I would say the best films are Marriage Story and Babyteeth, though everyone has their own favorites). But is Joker still good enough to win? Yes! Definitely. It's a completely unexpected, incredibly dark, audacious film that has Joaquin Phoenix giving a phenomenal performance (here's my full review). As for the rest of the winners, they should've given the Young Actor Award to lead actress Eliza Scanlen in Babyteeth instead. And the other awards are all surprisingly odd but not terrible choices. If anything, these winners will seriously stir things up and fuel conversation. Which is a good thing, right? This concludes our coverage of the 2019 Venice Film Festival, but we should be back again next year.

Find more posts: Awards, Movie News, Venice 19



Hard to imagine this film took the top honors at Venice. There must be something to the film. Either that or commercial and popular movies are beginning to overtake artistic merit and films of aesthetic value at award shows like this and the Oscars. Can't judge why this Joker movie won as I've not seen it. Will have to concede perhaps it's deserving and unique and done well. Let's hope so. At least it's not some mass audience comic book super hero thing...but seems things are getting mighty close to that line.

thespiritbo on Sep 7, 2019


Considering it deals with mental health, social classes and how cities, politics and people who have no real consideration or compassion for others who suffer again and again - we'll see that tipping point for an already fragile man. The stakes seem set in a comic book setting, but expect to experience something much more human and real. That's what I gained from the trailers and all the high regard coming from Venice seems to validate that. Go and see it in the theaters, come back and give me your take.

Nick Sears on Sep 9, 2019


Thanks for your intelligent reply. I won't go to see it in a theatre and find it very difficult to imagine the guy who directed the Hangover movies will ever do anything that resonates with me. I could be wrong, but some of the reviews I've read see this as not being a very good movie and these reviews read well with me. I like Phoenix, but a female writer for Time who I have read for years and usually agree with, found Phoenix's performance 'aggressively horrible'...while conceding he's a very good actor...just not in this film. In the end, one does have to see for one's self, don't they? I hope you like it as much as you seem to anticipate doing so. Perhaps afterwards you can give me your take on it. I'll take a look at it when it hits cable. Cheers and thanks again for the smart reply.

thespiritbo on Sep 9, 2019


I definitely shared your surprised realization about Philips also directing the Hangover series.. but wait til it hits cable?! I think it's worth taking a leap and going to the theater to experience it yourself, especially if you're on the fence. If you wait til it's on cable, you'll be given second hand opinions/reviews/spoilers from the web/tv/friends that'll only muddy the waters by robbing you from discovering the experience for yourself. I mean, it's still OK to go to a theater and leave feeling unsure or even angry. If it leaves you feeling unsettled, maybe that's part of the storytelling/character arc? I would expect a polarizing ending, not a happy one. It sounds like you're open to make your mind up for yourself, but are hesitant to give in to risk not enjoying yourself. Go for it! Bring a friend and get a post movie coffee and discuss. I'll def be back on here to reply.

Nick Sears on Sep 9, 2019

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