“Joker” from director Todd Phillips won the Golden Lion, and “J’Accuse,” or “An Officer and a Spy,” from director Roman Polanski has won the Grand Jury Prize, the festival’s runner up prize, at the 76th edition of the Venice Film Festival.
The comic book film starring Joaquin Phoenix in an origin story of the iconic Batman villain beat out a lineup that also included films such as James Gray’s “Ad Astra” and Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat” for the top prize.
“I want to thank Warner Bros. and DC for stepping out of their comfort zone and taking a big swing on me,” director Todd Phillips said as he accepted the Golden Lion.
Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” stars Jean Dujardin in a film about the Dreyfus Affair. His presence at the festival generated some backlash, as it’s his first film since the director was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was not present in Venice to accept the award.
This year’s jury is led by Lucrecia Martel, along with Mary Harron (replacing Jennifer Kent), Piers Handling, Stacy Martin, Rodrigo Prieto, Tsukamoto Shinya and Paolo Virzi rounding out the jury.
In previous years, art house films like “The Woman Who Left,” “From Afar” and “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” have won the prize, but more recently the festival has leaned toward more commercial entries, selecting Oscar favorites “The Shape of Water” two years ago followed by “Roma” last year.
Swedish director Roy Andersson won the Silver Lion for Best Director for his film “About Endlessness,” though he was not present to accept the award. Luca Martinelli won the Best Actor prize for “Martin Eden.” Ariana Ascaride won Best Actress for “Gloria Mundi.” Ji Yuan Tai Qi Hao won the Best Screenplay for his animated film “No. 7 Cherry Lane.” And Toby Wallace won the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Talent for the film “Babyteeth.”
This year’s festival also came under fire for only featuring two films directed by women among the titles in competition, “Babyteeth” by Shannon Murphy and “The Perfect Candidate” by Haifaa al-Mansour.
See the full list of awards winners below:
VENICE 76 AWARDS
Golden Lion: “Joker,” Todd Phillips
Grand Jury Prize: “J’Accuse” (“An Officer and a Spy”), Roman Polanski
Best Director: Roy Andersson, “About Endlessness”
Best Actress: Ariana Ascaride, “Gloria Mundi”
Best Actor: Luca Martinelli, “Martin Eden”
Best Screenplay: Ji Yuan Tai Qi Hao, “No. 7 Cherry Lane”
Special Jury Prize: “La Mafia Non E Piu Quella Di Una Volta,” Franco Maresco
Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Talent: Toby Wallace, “Babyteeth”
Best Documentary on Cinema: “Babenco: Tell Me When I Die,” Barbara Faust
Best Restored Film: “Extase,” Gustav Machaty
Best VR Story Award: “Daughters of Chibok,” Joel Kachi Benson
Best VR Experience: “A Linha,” Ricardo Laganaro
Best VR: “The Key,” Celine Tricart
Best Film: “Atlantis,” Valentyn Vasyanovych
Best Director: Theo Cort, “Blanco en Blanco”
Special Jury Prize: “Verdict,” Raymund Ribay Gutierrez
Best Actress: Marta Nieto, “Madre”
Best Actor: Sami Bouajila, “Bik Eneich – Un fils”
Best Screenplay: “Revenir,” Jessica Palud, written by Jessica Palud, Philippe Lioret, Diasteme
Best Short Film: “Darling,” Saim Sadiq
LION OF THE FUTURE
Luigi De Laurentiis Award for best Debut Film: “You Will Die at 20,” Amjad Abu Alala