Joker will compete for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards, making it the first DC Comics-inspired film to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and just the second comic book film to ever be nominated in the category behind Marvel Studios' Black Panther. Star Joaquin Phoenix, who so far has been named Best Actor at the Golden Globe Awards and the Critics' Choice Awards for his performance as troubled wannabe stand-up comic Arthur Fleck, emerged as frontrunner for the Best Actor Oscar following his pair of wins, marking the second time an actor has been nominated for the Joker role: Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2008's The Dark Knight.
The Christopher Nolan-directed Dark Knight was expected by many in 2009 to emerge as the first DC Comics film to score a Best Picture nomination, but the film failed to nab one of that year's five nominations despite widespread critical acclaim. Nominees included The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire, the latter ultimately taking the top prize as one of its eight wins.
Following the infamous snub, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences later expanded its nominations from a max of five to a possible 10 films. A decade later, in 2019, Black Panther became the first superhero movie to score a nomination for Best Picture, ultimately collected by Green Book over A Star Is Born, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Roma and Vice.
1978's Superman was the first DC Comics film to take home gold: Richard Donner's blockbuster was honored with a Special Achievement Award for its special effects, and Tim Burton's Batman gave DC its second Oscar when it was awarded Best Art Direction-Set Direction at the 1990 Academy Awards. Following The Dark Knight's Oscar wins for Best Supporting Actor and Best Achievement in Sound Editing, DC went eight years before winning another Oscar.
In 2017, Suicide Squad became the first entry in the DC Extended Universe to be awarded an Oscar when it won Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling. Joker is not connected to the DCEU and has no connections to other DC film universes, but should it be named Best Picture, it would be the first comic book film in any universe to win Hollywood's most prestigious award.
Despite director Todd Phillips admitting Joker is "not a movie for everybody," the Warner Bros. film grossed $1.066 billion worldwide, making it the studio's highest-grossing movie of 2019 and the third highest-grossing DC film behind only Aquaman ($1.148 billion) and The Dark Knight Rises ($1.084 billion).
The 92nd Academy Awards air Feb. 9 on ABC.