During his speech, the actor thanked director Todd Phillips and writer Scott Silver for exploring themes of gun violence and childhood trauma in Warner Bros.’ dark, dramatic adaptation of the famous Batman villain.
“Instead of inciting violence, you invited the audience in to see what it feels like when you’re one of the forgotten,” he said.
Actress Anne Hathaway presented for best lead actor in a film, noting that those who have won in the category at the Critics’ Choice Awards have historically gone on to win for best actor at the Oscars. Phoenix already won for best lead actor at the Golden Globes last weekend, with his Critics’ Choice win being the first of two Critics’ Choice honors for Joker, which also took home best score on Sunday night (though the film lost best picture to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood).
Meanwhile, Disney’s billion-dollar finale to its record-smashing team-up series, Avengers: Endgame, won in two out of the three categories it was nominated in. That includes honors for best visual effects and best action movie, with the latter category featuring nominees like 1917, Ford v Ferrari, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and fellow Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home.
On the television side, Watchmen lost best drama to fellow HBO series Succession, but star Regina King took home one of the ceremony’s highest acting honors with a win for best actress in a drama series. While she was not in attendance to accept her award, co-star Jean Smart was there to accept best supporting actress in a drama series, and used her stage time to thank the HBO series creator Damon Lindelof for his take on the classic and acclaimed comic book universe.
“Damon Lindelof, I don’t know what to say to you,” Smart said. “I mean, you took a piece of extraordinary science fiction, and you married it to historical fact, a part of our history that was so shocking, and even more shocking because a lot of us had no idea that it had even taken place.”
Between Joker, Watchmen and Avengers: Endgame, superhero fare took home a total of six awards.