That elusive prize
So another Academy Awards have come and gone. And once again, the Oscars have failed to recognize a “CBM” with the ultimate prize: Best Picture. But let’s be clear here. The film that did take best film, Parasite was absolutely worthy. For that matter, so was 1917 and so was Joker. Somebody had to win and everyone else had to lose. It’s pretty much how these things work. But take heart “CBM” fans, progress IS being made.
Progress being Made
In the last few years, two films that were “based” on comic books have garnered a nomination for Best Picture. Black Panther in 2018 and Todd Phillips Joker in 2019. In fact, Joker led all films this year with 11 nominations. But like Black Panther, it fell short of the ultimate prize. As disappointing as this may be to comic book fans, it’s not like there wasn’t strong competition for the award. However, it has been the feeling among many that the Academy turns its nose to such films. That prevailing thought might have been why Todd Phillips was trying to push against the notion.
Is it, or isn’t it?
In multiple interviews, Phillips explained that Joker was not one of “those movies.” While it may be set in the mythical Gotham, it did not follow any pre-determined course. He made it a point to let fans know that his story was not based on any comic book story. In fact, he even intimated that his character Arthur Fleck, may not have been the actual Joker at all. Of course, he had one major resource for the film. The extraordinary performance of Joaquin Phoenix as the title character. Phoenix so embodied the character (whoever he was) that talks of Academy Awards started early and kept on building. Deservedly so.
As these events transpired, I puzzled at Phillips apparent wishy-washiness when it came to whether Joker was a comic book film or not. The fact remained, it was a well done film and it’s lead actor’s performance spoke for itself. But “make a decision, Man! One way or the other.” Because whatever Phillips apparently wanted to classify it as, most fans felt it was a CBM and might be the one to claim that elusive prize. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The film won two awards Oscar night. Best actor for Phoenix’s performance and best original score. So the wait continues for that first CBM to break through. Like most things, eventually that goal will be reached.
But I still pondered why Phillips kept walking that CBM, not CBM tightrope. It finally dawned on me after the awards. He was doing the very best he could to get the Academy to not concentrate so hard on its classification, but more on its content. If he could somehow get them to see it as a great film, and not a comic book film, he might be able to overcome any bias against it. So he pushed the envelope on why it’s NOT a comic book movie. While at the same time, still claim that title of first Comic book movie to win best picture…if only. Nice effort Todd, the battle rages on. But you kicked that crack in the door just a little bit wider. One day, that door will get kicked in.
Did you think Joker deserved best picture? Will one day a definitive comic based film take home that golden statue? Share your thoughts about it with us at Geek Vibes Nation.
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 15 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.