As much as the Academy members irked comic book fans by not nominating The Dark Knight for Best Picture, Heath Ledger winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor was a beautifully redeeming moment for the Academy. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight was absolute perfection, and to not have given him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor would have been simply criminal.
While public sympathy over Ledger’s tragic death might have helped Academy voters overcome their prejudice against comic book movies for the Best Supporting Actor category, there is no doubt that Ledger’s performance was completely deserving of an Oscar. To fully understand just how riveting Ledger’s turn as The Joker was, one needs to only consider that he took over a role that had previously been played by the great Jack Nicholson and did it better.
If Heath Ledger had not won in the Best Supporting Actor category, it likely would have been one of the most awkward moments in Academy Awards history. For once, all the other nominees were likely relieved that they lost and didn’t have to walk up and claim an Oscar that everyone knew belonged to Ledger.
When Alan Arkin announced that the winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was Heath Ledger, the entire crowd erupted in applause. Heath Ledger’s father, mother, and sister accepted the Oscar on behalf of Heath. Kim Ledger said, “First of all I have to say, this is ever so humbling.” Kim Ledger continued “I would like to thank the Academy for recognizing our son’s amazing work.”