John Bleasdale Venice

Venice 2019: Joker has last laugh with Golden Lion win

In what has to be one of the crazier award ceremonies to grace the Venice Lido on its 76th edition, Todd Phillips’ Joker took home this year’s Golden Lion in a move guaranteed to provoke a flood of hot takes, an avalanche of think pieces and further lubrication for Oscars season.

It was a surprise but not exactly unthinkable. Observers spotted the film’s star Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips in Venice earlier that day and frankly, it was perhaps the best film in what was an underwhelming competition lineup. The whelm wasn’t challenged particularly by the Silver Lion winner for instance: Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy. The controversy surrounding the director’s inclusion in the competition provoked Jury President Lucrecia Martel to make a series of well-publicised remarks.

As Polanski’s supporters overpraised the film and detractors underpraised, the idea that it could ever be fairly praised – as a passable TV movie – felt almost impossible. Swedish maestro Roy Andersson picked up Best Director for About Endlessness while the acting awards went to Ariane Ascaride (Best Actress) for Gloria Mundi and Luca Marinelli (Best Actor) for Martin Eden.

A full list of winners is given below:

COMPETITION
Golden Lion: “Joker,” Todd Phillips
Grand Jury Prize: “An Officer and a Spy,” Roman Polanski
Silver Lion for Best Director: Roy Andersson, “About Endlessness”
Volpi Cup for Best Actress: Ariane Ascaride, “Gloria Mundi”
Volpi Cup for Best Actor: Luca Marinelli, “Martin Eden”
Best Screenplay: “No. 7 Cherry Lane,” Yonfan
Special Jury Prize: “The Mafia Is No Longer What It Used to Be,” Franco Maresco
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Young Actor: Toby Wallace, “Babyteeth”

HORIZONS COMPETITION (ORIZZONTI)
Best Film: “Atlantis,” Valentyn Vasyanovych
Best Director: Théo Court, “White on White”
Special Jury Prize: “Verdict,” Raymund Ribas Gutierrez
Best Actress: Marta Nieto, “Madre”
Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, “A Son”
Best Screenplay: “Back Home,” Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret and Diastème
Best Short Film: “Darling,” Saim Sadiq

The 76th Venice Film Festival takes place from 28 August-7 September.

John Bleasdale | @drjonty