Without the shadow of a doubt, the year 2019 was the year of the clowns. From the terrifying child-consuming Pennywise returning to wreak havoc to the small town of Derry to the clown prince of crime himself, Joker, played by Phoenix (44) - walking away with a billion-plus in worldwide gross, the year was mindboggling. And finally, the Joker ended up reaping the accolades at the Golden Globes 2020.

The acclaimed actor, known for his work in films like 'Gladiator' (2000), 'Walk the Line' (2005) and 'You were never really here' (2017) seems to be enjoying both a career and personal high, courtesy of his new-found love in 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' (2011) Actress Rooney Mara (34).

A budding romance in secret

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Joaquin Pheonix and Rooney Mara, with cast members of their film,'Her' in 2013 wikimediacommons

Evidently, this is not the first time the couple has graced the red carpet together; they were seen together for the first time at 2017 Cannes Film Festival for Phoenix's Lynn Ramsey directed crime-drama 'You were never really here'. Mara looked stunning in her plunging Givenchy lace bodice gown matched with two large jewel-embroidered hairpieces while Phoenix opted for his classic 'David-Lettermen-I'm-still-here' look, wearing a black tuxedo and black sunglasses.

Much ado about nothing -- but a billion

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Grossing over a billion, Joker- with a doubt, the most talked-about movie of 2019 wikimediacommons

'Joker', the Todd Philips directed film that took a helping hand of inspiration from the works of Martin Scorsese, received serious underserved flak and controversy, with media outlets talking and writing up the film to be harbinger of doom- claiming everything from it being sympathetic to the alt-right to becoming a rallying cry for mass shooters all across the United States.

Unsurprisingly, no cases of violence occurred and the public embraced the film like a family member they didn't know they wanted that despite its modest budget for an R-rated comic-book film smashed box office records, becoming most profitable than even Marvel's Endgame. Both Phoenix and Phillips are up for nominations.

It was those rare instances where the surmounting 'bad-press' did the opposite of what it intended to do. Instead of turning people off from the film it ignited a morbid curiosity in the general public, which led to people who aren't necessarily comic-book fans to flock to the theatres to see for themselves what the deal was- leading to increased ticket sales.

Pheonix thanks his Fiance during the acceptance speech

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Pheonix at the acceptance ceremony after the ceremony @youtube/thehollywoodpress

The lovebirds, both opting for the private and low-key life, have apparently dated for the three years before getting engaged last July. "She's the only girl I ever looked up on the internet," Phoenix said when asked about his new lady love in November. "We were just friends, email friends. I'd never done that. Never looked up a girl online." he added.

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Rooney Mara from a scene in 2013's 'Her' @youtube/netflix

In September last year, when Phoenix was awarded the TIFF Tribute Actor Award at the Toronto International Film Festival for his work in Joker, he thanked Mara during his acceptance speech saying, One last thing — somewhere here, I don't know where, is a filthy dragon, and I want to rip its wings off and fasten a blanket and sleep with it forever," before ending his speech with a simple "I Love you".

On stage for his most recent win at the Golden Globes, Phoenix gave an impassioned profanity-laced speech, again thanking his partner in life, seated in the crowd.