Joker star Brett Cullen, who played Thomas Wayne in the Batman villain origin story, says the Todd Phillips-directed movie deserved to win more accolades. Joker led this year's Academy Award nominations with 11 nods, including the first Best Picture nomination for a DC Comics movie, ultimately being awarded Best Original Score for composer Hildur Guðnadóttir and Best Actor for leading man Joaquin Phoenix, his first Academy Award win. Phoenix and Guðnadóttir were awarded similar prizes at the BAFTA Awards and the Golden Globes, where Joker was nominated in the Best Director and Best Motion Picture categories. Joker's most prestigious win came early when it was awarded top prize, the Golden Lion, at the Venice Film Festival in September.
"When I saw [Phoenix] at the premiere, I said, 'I'll see you in February at the Oscars.' He went, 'No! Don't say that,'" Cullen recalled at GalaxyCon Richmond. "He's just so shy about it. And everyone I know was like, 'Oh, that guy's gonna win an Oscar. He's gonna win the Oscar.' And I'm glad he did."
On Joker, Cullen added, "The movie, I thought should have got more accolades. But some people thought it was disturbing. But it is disturbing, it's a movie about mental health."
Set in early 1980s Gotham City, Joker captures the "sense of what was going in on that period and that history in time" in reality, "which is we didn't care about mental health." Like Phoenix's Arthur Fleck — a downtrodden, wannabe stand-up comedian who fails to receive proper mental health care — people "turned a blind eye" to veterans "that were living on the street, [who] had drug problems and alcohol problems, PTSD."
"I think that's what Todd was trying to do with this movie, is to say to us there's value in recognizing mental illness, there's value in trying to help people — if you want to go with the veterans — people who have actually sacrificed a lot for our country, and just a normal human being who deserves the respect and the ability to be treated with whatever medicine they needed, and they didn't back then," Cullen said. "So I think that's why Todd did this. I think it's a really apropos movie for what's going on in the world today."
Joker also grossed $1.072 billion worldwide, placing it among the highest-grossing DC Comics movies.
"I'm really proud of Joker," Cullen said later. "I think it's a movie that, I believe like Taxi Driver does, it will maintain. Like you watch [Joker] 20 years from now, you're gonna go, 'What an incredible film.' Deer Hunter you watch today and you go, 'What an incredible film.'"
Joker is now available to own on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray.