Joaquin Phoenix fights back tears as he quotes late brother River during Oscar speech

Joaquin Phoenix won the best actor Academy Award for his role as a wanna-be-comedian destined to become a supervillain in Joker.

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Phoenix won best actor for his role in Joker. Source: 1 NEWS

It is Phoenix’s first Oscar and fourth nomination. Widely praised for performances in films ranging from Gladiator to the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, a best actor win had proved elusive for Phoenix.

In his acceptance speech, Phoenix said he did not feel elevated above any of his fellow nominees. He said he didn't know what he would be if not for acting.

Phoenix had been seen as the front-runner for the award heading in to this afternoon's ceremony.

Joker won the best original score Oscar as well, and is up for the night’s final prize, best picture.

He becomes the second actor to win an Oscar for playing the notorious DC Comics villain. Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight in 2008.