With Monday’s announcement of the Oscar nominations, it is clear these three movies are some of the most award-worthy works produced in the last 12 months: “Joker, “Richard Jewell” and “Just Mercy.”
Beloved by fans and admired by cineastes, “Joker” garnered a whopping 11 Academy Award nominations, the most for any film this year. Joaquin Phoenix is vying for Best Actor, its director-writer-producer Todd Phillips is up for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. It’s also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup, Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. The $1-billion grossing hit is nominated for virtually same categories in the British Academy Awards (BAFTA).
In the recently concluded Golden Globes, the film won two awards — Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix and Best Original Score for composer Hildur Guðnadóttir.
“Joker” started its awards campaign by winning the Golden Lion or Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival. To date, the R-Rated blockbuster has collected more than 40 awards, and still counting.
“Joker” is the filmmaker’s original vision of the infamous DC villain, an origin story infused with, but distinctly outside, the character’s more traditional mythologies. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society. Longing for any light to shine on him, he tries his hand as a stand-up comic, but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty and, ultimately, betrayal, Arthur makes one bad decision after another that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty, allegorical character study.
Director Clint Eastwood’s latest real-life cautionary tale also ruled the awards season. Kathy Bates snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role with her performance as the suffering mother Bobi Jewell, repeating her accolade from the Golden Globes.
The National Board of Review honored the film as one of The Ten Best of 2019, and bestowed Bates with the Best Supporting Actress award and lead actor Paul Walter Hauser with a Breakthrough Performance Award.
The American Film Institute also declared “Richard Jewell” as Film of the Year.
The suspense drama “Richard Jewell” centers around the events that forever made his name synonymous with that terrible act. The world is first introduced to Richard Jewell as the security guard who reports finding the device at the 1996 Atlanta Games bombing—his quick thinking making him a hero whose swift actions save countless lives. But within days, the law enforcement wannabe will become the FBI’s number one suspect, vilified in the court of public opinion, his life ripped apart.
The inspiring drama scored a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for Jamie Foxx in the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards 2020.
The film is also contending for six NAACP Awards: Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Ensemble, Outstanding Actor (Michael B. Jordan), Outstanding Supporting Actor (Foxx), Outstanding Breakthrough Performance (Rob Morgan) and Outstanding Writing.
National Board of Review likewise honored the film with a Freedom of Expression Award, while the African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) and a Best Supporting Actor prize for Foxx.
The film previously won the Audience Choice Award and Best Feature Film for director Destin Daniel Cretton at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
A powerful and thought-provoking true story, “Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or who were not afforded proper representation, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley. One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian, who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds—and the system—stacked against them.