Friday, January 24, 2020

JOKER (2019), JUDY (2019)

 The frontrunners...

Joaquin Phoenix about to perform
as Joker

The frontrunner in the Best Actor Oscar race by all accounts is Joaquin Phoenix as Joker

Joker plays fast and loose with the origin story of most famous of Batman villains known by so many from DC comics. In this movie, he is know as Albert Fleck, who lives with his mother and manages to scrape by with the money he can make as a party clown. Arthur suffers from various mental issues that require his taking several types of medication to keep in control. Personal issues develop with his sickly mother and funding cuts that deprive Arthur of the drugs he needs. Arthur subsequently transforms into the Joker as he slowly loses control of his sanity and discovers some sobering truths about his life that push him over the edge for keeps.

Phoenix gives his all here. I can't imagine anyone better or stranger to take on this role both physically and mentally. I thought his only potential detriment to winning the Oscar might be the fact that Heath Ledger won an Oscar for the same role in The Dark Night. From every prediction sight I've looked at, this doesn't seem to matter and he's a heavy favorite.

Joker was nominated for 11 Academy Awards: including Best Picture, Actor, Director, Screenplay and Music.

Rene Zellweger about to perform
as Judy

Even more of a sure thing seems to be Rene Zellweger taking home the Best Actress award for her performance as Judy Garland towards the end of her life in Judy.  Most of the film is set in Swinging London of the late 60's, as we see Miss Garland performing to make money to keep custody of her kids. The movie shows Judy's drug/pill problem which it intersperses with clips of young Judy on The Wizard of Oz set where the pressures of the studio and willing accomplices get Judy hooked on pills at a very tender age.

Zellweger gives a wonderful interpretation of the latter day Garland, including performing her songs in a very convincing way. It's a sad story that seems to play a bit loose with the facts and condenses some of what actually happened for the sake of the plot. I don't know if Judy actually ate omelettes with a gay couple she met at the end of one show, but it's a nice enough scene!

Judy was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actress and Best Makeup/Hairstyling 

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