Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar Worthy Performances


Joaquin Phoenix: Oscar Worthy Performances. Last Sunday night Joaquin Phoenix topped off a flawless awards campaign, collecting the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Joker, adding to the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Screen Actors’ Guild Award he’d already picked up earlier this year. 

While his victory at the Academy Awards might have seen like a shoo-in, the actor’s previous form at the ceremony suggested otherwise; this was the fourth-time Phoenix had been nominated, without ever having walked away with a statuette. 

In celebration of the DVD release of Joker, which is available to buy now, we’re looking back at the roles which earned Joaquin Phoenix his previous nominations, looking at the actors to have beaten him out to the award in past years and seeing how Phoenix learned from the roles to set him up for his 2020 clean sweep.



Before his iconic thumbs down became a viral meme, Phoenix’s role as the psychotic sovereign Commodus was remembered for its unhinged brilliance. The role cemented Phoenix’s status in Hollywood and highlighted the young actor’s ability to take-on mentally complex characters in blockbuster films. 

Phoenix was nominated for ‘The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor’ for his portrayal of Commodus but lost out to the much less iconic, but no less impressive Benicio del Toro Award for his role of Javier Rodriguez in Traffic. 


In Walk the Line, Phoenix plays the role of Johnny Cash, tracing the country music legend’s story from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm, his time in the US Air Force to his rise to fame at Sun Records in Memphis. At its centre, the film focuses on the musician’s relationship with singer June Carter and the ups and downs of his precarious lifestyle and drug addiction. 

Phoenix was nominated for ‘Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role’ at the Oscars for Walk the Line but lost out to the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, whose win for his portrayal of the author Truman Capote would be his first and last time Seymour-Hoffman would walk away with the award. 


The Master is a psychological drama that focuses on Freddie (Phoenix), a World War II veteran that has returned home from war. Worried about his future and struggling to adjust to a post-war society, he is indoctrinated by Lancaster Dodd (previous award-rival Philip Seymour Hoffman), the leader of a mysterious religious movement called ‘The Cause’. 

Phoenix was nominated for Best Actor for The Master but lost out to Daniel Day-Lewis playing the titular role of the US president in Lincoln. This would be the second of Day-Lewis’s three ‘Best Actor’ wins at the Oscars– a record in the category.  

HER (2013)

Phoenix wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Her but his performance in the film was so good, we’ve included it anyway. 

Phoenix’s character in the film, Theodore, is reminiscent of his role in Joker: an eccentric ‘loner’, cast out by society.  But instead of turning into mass-murder Theodore, a lonely writer, establishes a relationship with an advanced computer AI (basically an Alexa) after he is left heartbroken by a failed relationship. 

2013 marked the peak of the McConaissance, as Matthew McConaughey walked away with the golden statuette for the first time for his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club.

JOKER (2020)

Joker focuses on Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill, aspiring comedian who lives with his mother who becomes increasingly isolated and depressed as he is physically assaulted by segregated by society. 

From his now infamous body transformation (for which he lost three and a half stone to achieve), to the flair he brought to the iconic character, Phoenix’s role has already achieved legendary status. 

While in previous years, the Academy have overlooked Phoenix’s unhinged on-screen personas, it seems that this year, his portrayal of an outsider  searching for meaning in a broken society resonated with voters and despite tough competition from cinema legends Leonardo Di Caprio, Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas, Phoenix finally picked up the elusive prize – congratulations Joaquin!

JOKER is available to buy on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD now.

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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.