Festival Chairman Harold Matzner praised Phoenix in a statement announcing the honor, sharing, "Joaquin Phoenix mesmerizes audiences in Joker with a performance that elicits empathy and reminds society on the whole that we can be better."
"For this performance, another in his arsenal of unforgettable characters, we are honored to present [him] with this year’s Chairman’s Award," Matzner added.
Phoenix spoke with ET's Ash Crossan about his acclaimed role in the gritty comic book-inspired drama back in September, and he opened up about what it took to play the eponymous character -- including losing 50 pounds to play the emaciated Arthur Fleck.
"It was something that I've done before and… I swore when I did it before that I'd never do it again," Phoenix said of the body transformation. "But, it seemed like it was very important for the character."
"I think it ended up affecting me in ways that I hadn't anticipated," he continued, explaining that losing all that weight changed the way he acted physically. "I felt this unique control over my body and how I moved, for whatever reason."