Bradley Cooper was not on the list of expected attendees at last night’s TIFF premiere of Joker, which just won the Golden Lion in Venice and is now an Oscar contender in several categories, including Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix. There are many layers to this Bradley Cooper relationship with Joker. He’s a producer on the film and he’s tight with Todd Phillips (The Hangover, etc). Joker is also a Warner Bros property and Bradley is a WB boy. And we know WB has big plans for Joker. They’ve just come off an Oscar campaign for A Star is Born. This is the 2019 horse they’ll be riding through the season. I wonder how often Bradley and his side-part will be popping in. 

How do you feel about the side-part? I don’t really associate Coop with a part. He’s typically a no-part kind of dude. This is a deep part though, and a hairstyle we’ve never seen on him. It’s… not my favourite. Probably it’s for a new role? Like a war movie? This is a soldier’s haircut and he’s been attached to a film about the Atlantic Wall for a few years now. 

Bradley did not do interviews at the premiere last night. He and Robert De Niro were the surprise guests, posing on the carpet, before heading inside the theatre. Joaquin also didn’t do interviews on the press line, which is definitely not a surprise where he’s concerned. That said, as I’ve been saying, Joaquin appears to be…not as resistant to campaigning for Oscar. In his own way. 

Joaquin was honoured at the TIFF Tribute Gala last night alongside Meryl Streep. Per The Hollywood Reporter, here’s what he said when he took the stage:

"I don't know who's really giving me this award or why. In fact, I don't care. My publicist said somebody wants to give me an award and I said, 'I'm in. Let's do it.'" 

That’s obviously a joke but a few years ago, I’m not sure he would have taken the opportunity to make the joke, or even agreed to accept the honour at all. And then, after the joke, he got deep:

"Honestly, I thought I was gonna come out and just make a lot of tasteless jokes at my expense and yours, but watching those clips — I'm so embarrassed to admit this, but — I feel overwhelmed with emotion, because I just think about all the people that had such a profound influence on me throughout my career."

And even deeper:

"When I was 15 or 16, my brother River came home from work and had a VHS copy of a movie called Raging Bull, and he sat me down and he made me watch it," Phoenix recalled. "And the next day, he woke me up and made me watch it again. And he said, 'You're gonna start acting again. This is what you're gonna do.' He didn't ask me; he just told me. And I am indebted to him for that, because acting has given me such an incredible life." 

Like, whoa. When was the last time you heard Joaquin Phoenix talk about River Phoenix? Maybe it’s because he’s in a really good place – and ready to receive the recognition. People always say that you can’t be loved until you are ready to be loved. Does Rooney Mara have anything to do with that? She was there last night and they went to the after-party together (two parties, in fact, because Joanna saw them near the end of the Uncut Gems party), holding hands almost the entire night, clearly very much in love. This is what Joaquin said at the end of his speech: 

"Somewhere here, I don't know where, is a fervent dragon [probably a reference to his wife, Rooney Mara, who played the title character in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo], and I want to rip its wings off, fashion a blanket and sleep with it forever. I love you. Thank you."

Heads up, everyone. Joaquin Phoenix is coming for that Oscar.