The 45-year-old has been nominated for four Academy Awards throughout his career: one for each leading role in Joker, The Master and Walk the Line, and one for his supporting turn in Gladiator.
However, it’s his performance as the Clown Prince of Crime that earned him the big prize, making him the second actor to take home an Oscar for portraying the comicbook villain after Heath Ledger’s posthumous win for The Dark Knight. Todd Phillips’ grimy origin story has been a grand success: the first billion-dollar R-rated movie, critically acclaimed, and multi-award-winning. Alongside Phoenix, Hildur Guðnadóttir also won an Oscar for Best Original Score.
The Oscar win follows a near-flawless awards season sweep, taking home the BAFTA, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award on top of tonight’s golden gong. Phoenix’s biggest competitor was Adam Driver, who earned steady nominations for his breathtaking performance in Netflix’s Marriage Story.
During his speech, Phoenix said to Driver: ‘I’ve been watching you the last years and you’ve been turning in these beautiful, nuanced, incredibly profound performances. I’m so moved by you and you were devastating in this film, you should be here.’