5 Joaquin Phoenix Films That Are Better Than Joker

Mr J is nowhere near his best...

Joaquin Phoenix Gladiator

One of the most divisive films of 2019, Joker’s polarising reputation didn’t stop it from being nominated for 11 Academy Awards, the most for any film at the 2020 Oscars. While few would argue that Joaquin Phoenix doesn’t deserve his first nomination since he played a lonely World War II veteran in 2013 classic The Master, Joker itself is far from a masterpiece.

Although the look of Joker is memorable and the cinematography is lush, the story is told in broad strokes. Subtlety is not Todd Philips forté as the late ‘here’s confirmation that he was imagining it the whole time’ flashback montage reminded everyone watching. Phoenix carried the film on his bony, twisted back - but we would argue that he’s given better performances.

That’s not to take away from Phoenix’s performance in any way, only to say that you have to work with the material that you’re given. Joker isn’t a great movie and Phoenix has been in plenty better. Here’s five that are better pictures than the clown origin story.

5. The Sisters Brothers (2018)

joaquin phoenix The Sisters Brothers (2018)
Annapurna Pictures

An underrated western that failed at the box office while winning praise from critics, The Sisters Brothers saw Phoenix play the more impetuous of the eponymous hitmen siblings. Set in the wild American West in the mid-19th century, it tells the tale of bounty hunter brothers tasked with tracking down Hermann Kermit Warm, played by Riz Ahmed, for reasons unknown.

Sharing the screen with Reilly, Ahmed, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Phoenix shone in his role as the complex Charlie. Jacques Audiard’s direction ensured that a steady pace is kept for what is part chase movie and part (dark) buddy comedy. It manages to be funny, touching and eye-opening, confronting viewers with the realities of life in this time period.

Reilly steals the show in a trademark cuddly bear role. Despite playing a hired killer, he has higher ideals and wants to better himself, exemplified in the hilarious scene where he acquires a toothbrush and doesn’t quite understand how to use it. Dig out this movie.


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