The 2020 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama went to Joaquin Phoenix for his titular performance in Joker. The award was handed out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on Sunday, during a live ceremony hosted by Ricky Gervais. He beat out Christian Bale (Ford v Ferrari), Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory), Adam Driver (Marriage Story) and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes).
This is his second Golden Globe, after winning Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in 2006 for his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. He was also previously nominated for his work in Gladiator, Her, Inherent Vice and The Master.
Phoenix received a standing ovation from the star-studded audience and delivered a speech that was heavily bleeped out due to expletives. The actor somewhat awkwardly praised his fellow nominees for their "beautiful, mesmerizing work." He noted that a few actors had reached out to him and joked that he felt intimidated by them though they "shared the same agent."
He thanked Joker director Todd Phillips, calling him an "amazing friend and collaborator," and at one point, looked out at the audience at his fiancee, actress Rooney Mara. He pointed out that people had given him second chances during his career, and ended the speech with a plea to help Australia, which is dealing with devastating wildfires.
"I don't want to rock the boat, it's really nice that so many people have well wishes to Australia, but we have to do more than that ... hopefully, we can be unified," he said. "It's great to vote but sometimes we have to take that responsibility on ourselves."
Phoenix's speech was cut short as he was eventually played off by music, and it appeared he was beginning to call out actors for taking private jets due to their impact on the environment.
The internet had plenty of reactions to Phoenix's awkward speech.
lol interesting how they started playing the music on joaquin phoenix’s speech as soon as he started calling out people for flying on private jets and asking them to do more than give “well wishes” to australia
His performance in the origin story about one of Batman’s most infamous foes has garnered wide critical acclaim and nominations for the upcoming Critics' Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards as well as the Palm Springs International Film Festival - Chairman’s Award. The film, which was co-written and directed by Todd Phillips, has earned over $300 million at the North American box office, making it one of the biggest releases of the year.
Notably, this is not the first time a portrayal of the notorious villain has been recognized at the Golden Globes. In 2009, Heath Ledger won a posthumous Best Supporting Actor award for his version in The Dark Knight while Jack Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy in 1990 for Batman.
Meanwhile, the win is the first of many in a fierce battle for Best Actor during the 2019-2020 awards season, which has seen Phoenix nominated against the likes of Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, who is competing in the Musical or Comedy category, Driver and others at various awards shows. The race will undoubtedly continue to get more competitive as the season goes on.
ET previously spoke to Phoenix about his Joker transformation. Watch the video below for more.