Well, there you have it: Joaquin Phoenix has won Best Actor at the 2020 Academy Awards for his titular blockbuster performance in Todd Phillips’ Joker. Follow our complete winner’s list for an update on all the night’s victories.
In taking home the award, Phoenix beat out stiff competition in Antonio Banderas for Pain and Glory, Adam Driver for Marriage Story, Leonardo DiCaprio for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Jonathan Pryce for The Two Popes.
This marks Phoenix’s first Oscar win, despite being nominated in this category for 2006’s Walk the Line and 2013’s The Master. He was also previously nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 2001’s Gladiator.
However, this is the second time the Joker role has gone for the gold. In 2009, Heath Ledger posthumously won Best Supporting Actor for his iconic turn in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which Phoenix recently honored at the SAG Awards.
As he has during many of his speeches this awards season, Phoenix used the opportunity to call for action against the world’s wrongs. “I think whether w’ere talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice,” he said. “We’re talking about the fight against the belief that one nation, one people, one race, one gender, or one species has the right to dominate, control, and use and exploit another with impunity.”
Towards the end of the speech, he said humanity is at its best when “we support each other, not when we cancel each other out for past mistakes, but when we help each other to grow. When we educate each other, when we guide each other toward redemption. That is the best of humanity.” Then, choking back tears, he quoted his late brother, River Phoenix: “When he was 17, my brother wrote this lyric. He said, ‘Run to the rescue with love, and peace will follow. Thank you.”
Watch Phoenix’s full speech ahead.
The night’s other big winners included Brad Pitt for Best Supporting Actor, Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress, and Renée Zellweger for Best Actress. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite also had a landmark evening, becoming the first international film to win Best Picture and only the second to win Best Director. It also took home Best Screenplay and Best International Feature Film. Find all the winners and performances here.
Next up, Phoenix will star in C’mon C’mon, a new drama from director Mike Mills. But, don’t count out another go-around Gotham City, though, as both Phoenix and Phillips are open to the possibility of a sequel. Of course, nothing is confirmed yet.
Warner Bros. certainly wouldn’t oppose a sequel, either, seeing how their gritty DC spinoff has since become both the most profitable comic book movie of all time and the first R-rated film to reach a billion worldwide. No laughing matter there.
And much to the chagrin of Jared Leto, the film’s also become quite a pillar in pop culture, from drawing fans to its shooting locations, to being screened at the White House, to even dancing across PornHub. Sadly, Gary Glitter also benefited from it.