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Does Joker deserve a Best Picture nomination?

Illustration: Carter Klassen · The Sentry

yes, it made a clear impact on cinemagoers

Opinion by Alexander Elmore

With 11 Academy Award nominations, Joker is already the most honored film of the year—and the 92 Oscar ceremony has yet to happen. The sheer number of nominations given to the film has sparked controversy among the film community, specifically it’s coveted Best Picture nom, but Joker is deserving of its place among the other films in the category. 

First and foremost, Joker created a conversation, not just among cinephiles, but the general public. The film grossed over $1 billion at the international box office, and though it was not the only film to do so this year, nor does box office revenue matter; it does prove people saw it, saw it again, and were talking about it. Joker should be honored because its popularity stemmed not from 20+ films that came before it and 10 years of buildup, but rather out of its own merits as a singular film—a rarer feat in today’s franchise-driven world than most will admit. 

Joker created conversation revolving around the themes of classism and mental health present in its story; conversations about very real-world issues. The film manages to be about more than just a comic book character, though it also embraces that aspect of its lineage as well. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of the film is how it reflects various other pieces of work. The tone and style of Joker feels like that of 70s crime thrillers, especially Martin Scorsese films. Though Joker has taken criticism for its obvious influences, is that not what film is about? Joker borrows from past films, genres, and auteurs to reevaluate and reimagine them in different contexts. If nothing else, the film represents an analyzation of past tropes and storylines. It’s hard to say if the other Best Picture nominees do the same thing, though even if they did Joker would still be worthy of the nomination for doing such things successfully.  

While Joker is not the pinnacle of comic book films, its nomination is only the second time a comic book film has received the top award nomination and is reason enough to be excited about the Academy’s changing taste as to what counts for cinema. 

no, it’s just a hollow shell of better films

Opinion by Frankie Spiller

The  Oscars are meant to be awarded to those in the film industry that stood out against the rest and brought honor to their craft. Unfortunately, these nominations always seem to miss the mark in some way. Nominations are not inclusive; great films get forgotten, and mediocre films get nominated for Best Picture. Joker does not deserve the nomination because it lacks meaning. 

Joker is a story about Arthur Fleck, pushed aside by society because of his mental illnesses, and wants audience to sympathize with one of the most notorious murderers and abusers in pop-culture history. The film wants to comment on mental illness and how it is perceived in society and creates a harmful connection to violence. It attempts to feel like a Martin Scorsese film but relies on empty stylistic choices that fail to impress, like the random dance scene that makes the audience more uncomfortable than anything. 

One of the major themes this film attempted to convey was the rise of the lower class against the upper-class tyrants ruling Gotham city. Fleck was made the figurehead of this movement unintentionally because he killed some random rich people without thinking. Fleck embraces his new “duty” to Gotham, but his development means nothing when it was forced under false pretenses.

Out of all the Best Picture nominees, anything but Joker is deserving of a win. JoJo Rabbit is a darkly humorous take on a young German boy struggling between his humanity and his country. Parasite details the struggles of the lower class and an unemployed family and their relationship with the wealthy. The Irishman does not need to feel like a Scorsese film because it is literally a Scorsese film. Joker is no deeper than a puddle, and the themes it lazily tries to convey are prominent and more successful in the other Best Picture nominations, making it useless as a film in general. 

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