Early reviews are tipping Joaquin Phoenix for an Oscar for his lead performance in Joker.
The Hollywood Reporter called it “Phoenix’s film”, praising his “out-there performance” which it said was “no laughing matter”.
It went on to describe the movie as “arguably the best Batman-adjacent movie since The Dark Knight”.
The LA Times said he “delivers the kind of meticulously detailed psychotic breakdown that he does better than just about any American actor now working”.
Empire called Phoenix “astonishing”, praising his physicality in the role, for which the 44-year-old actor is reported to have lost around 50lbs.
The Guardian hailed the film “gloriously daring and explosive”, giving it five stars.
NME called it an “instant classic”, calling Phoenix’s delivery a “tour-de-force” and also awarding it five stars.
Variety called it a “dazzlingly disturbed psycho morality play”, while The Telegraph compared it to Fight Club, predicting it will “stir up trouble”.
The positive reviews and Academy Award buzz follows the film’s premiere in Venice over the weekend.
It is competing for the Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Lion award, against 20 other films.
The movie received an eight-minute long standing ovation from the audience of critics.
The story line of the Batman spin-off is the origin story of failed stand-up comedian Arthur Fleck who goes on to become Gotham City’s most notorious villain – The Joker.
Directed by The Hangover creator Todd Phillips, the film also stars Robert De Niro as chat show host Murray Franklin and Zazie Beetz as Fleck’s love interest Sophie Dumond.
Set in the 1980s, Phillips has insisted the movie, which has moments of shocking violence, is “not political”.
The movie has an impressive 88% “fresh” rating on movie aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes.
Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in the 2008 film The Dark Knight.
He died from a drug overdose just a few months after filming, aged just 28.
Jack Nicholson also famously played the role back in 1989 in Batman, while Jared Leto became the clown prince of crime in 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Joker is released in UK cinemas on 4 October.