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Joaquin Phoenix Pays Tribute to Fellow Joker Actor Heath Ledger during SAG Award Winning Speech

Joaquin Phoenix is on a roll this awards season. The actor has already picked up a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award for his intoxicating performance as Arthur Fleck in Todd Phillips’ Joker. Now, to add to his resume, the actor has also just picked up an Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Motion Picture) at the Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) today. Other nominees include Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Taron Egerton (Rocketman) and Adam Driver (Marriage Story).

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In a heartwarming moment, Joaquin Phoenix used his acceptance speech to pay tribute to the late great Heath Ledger who died after of drug overdose shortly after delivering a groundbreaking performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Phoenix said (via Vanity Fair):

I’m standing here on the shoulders of my favorite actor, Heath Ledger.

Phoenix also went on to show his support to all the other actors who received nominations as well. Much like DiCaprio, Phoenix began his career in Hollywood as a child actor.

There would always be two other guys that I was up against and we’d always lose to this one kid…every casting director would always whisper, ‘It’s Leonardo.’ You’ve been an inspiration for over 25 years to me and so many people.

He then turned his attention to Christian Bale, jokingly begging him to deliver at least one bad performance.

It’s infuriating. I wish you [Christian Bale] would just suck once.

Adam [Driver], I’ve been watching you the last few years and you’ve been turning in these beautiful, nuanced, incredible, profound performances. I’m just so moved by you…you should be here. Taron [Egerton], I’m so happy for you…you’re so beautiful in this movie [Rocketman] and I’m so happy for you, and I can’t wait to see what else you do.

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There is little doubt in our minds that Phoenix will win the Best Actor award at the 2020 Oscars as well, deservedly so.

In my review of Joker I wrote:

Phoenix (Her, The Master) infuses just enough intoxicating charisma, likeability and then swagger into a very unlikeable character that we always empathise with him, even if we don’t agree with him. Phoenix who shed 25kgs for the role looks like a frail man, whose rib cages can be seen to a frightening degree, especially when he stretches on the couch.

But that isn’t the most impressive part (though it is very impressive), it’s his ability to give you a peek at Arthur’s at times contradicting and convoluted thoughts and emotions through movement and body language that’s the true testament of his skill. To steal the title of a Dave Eggers book, here — and as always — Joaquin Phoenix delivers a heartbreaking performance of staggering genius that anchors the whole film. By the end of it, I was inebriated off his craft.

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