The 76th Annual Venice Film Festival winners are in, and the Joker is at the top of the list. Joining the ranks of past winners 2018's The Shape of Water and 2019's Roma, Joker is leaving Italy with the Golden Lion, the highest price awarded at the festival. Roman Polanski' An Officer and a Spy trailed closely behind, winning the Grand Jury Prize.

Joker has been capturing headlines since its world premiere on August 31st. It has received positive critical reviews and an abundance of praise for Joaquin Phoenix's transformative performance. Under Todd Phillip's direction and a script from Phillips and Scott Silver, Joker seems to surprise and delight.

The film centers around Batman's iconic arch nemesis. It is an original standalone story that explores the man who would become known as The Joker. Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a man struggling to find his place among the divided and troubled society of Gotham. He works as a clown during the day, and tries to make his way as a stand up comedian at night. As the story escalates, so does his cruelty. The film is an unsettling character study of a decades old character.

Related: Joker Director Says Joaquin Phoenix Walked Off Set a Lot While Shooting

It was a unique list of winners with a comic book character leading the day, critically acclaimed A Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson nowhere to be seen, while a divisive filmmaker pulling in the second prize.

Roman Polanski was one of the most prolific filmmakers over 40 years ago, but he was eventually arrested after accusations emerged that he had sexual intercourse with a minor. The filmmaker fled to France to avoid sentencing and has largely been shunned by American mainstream cinema. Although prominent actors have continued to work with him. Now, during the height of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Polanksi is once again in the news as his film, An Officer and a Spy debuted in Venice. The jury of the oldest film festival in the world has spoken and they awarded the French film the Grand Jury Prize.

Joker is scheduled to go to Canada next at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, and will eventually come to the United States when it is released by Warner Bros. Pictures theatrically on October 4.

Other Venice award winners include:

Silver Lion, Best Director

  • Roy Andersson; About Endlessness

Volpi Cup, Best Actress

  • Ariane Ascaride; Gloria Mundi

Volpi Cup, Best Actor

  • Luca Marinelli, Martin Eden

Best Screenplay

  • Yonfan; No. 7 Cherry Lane

Special Jury Prize

  • La Mafia Non E Più Quello Di Una Volta, from director Franco Moresco

The Horizon awards went to:

Best Film

  • Atlantis from director Valentyn Vasyanovych

Best Director

  • Theo Court; Blanco En Blanco

Special Jury Prize

  • Verdict from director Raymund Ribay Guttierez

Best Actress

  • Marta Nieto; Madre

Best Actor

  • Sami Bouajila; A Son

Best Screenplay

  • Jessica Palud, Revenir

Best Short Film

  • Darling; dir: Saim Sadiq

The Venice Award for a debut film, Lion of the Future went to Amjad Abu Alala for You Will Die at 20.

This news comes to us via Deadline

Samantha Clair