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“Great Maestro, finally!” tweeted Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi after Ennio Morricone’s triumphant Oscar win at the 88th Academy Awards.
The 87-year-old composer has scored over 500 film and TV works, 100 classical pieces, and had one honorary Oscar and five other Oscar nominations going into Sunday, but his award for the best original score for The Hateful Eight was his first competitive win.
Morricone famously composed the Sergio Leone Dollars’ Trilogy and has worked with Hollywood’s top directors. His first nomination was for Days of Heaven in 1979 (Terrence Malick), followed by The Mission in 1986 (Roland Joffe), The Untouchables in 1987 (Brian de Palma), Bugsy in 1991 (Berry Levinson) and Malena in 2000 (Giuseppe Tornatore).
At 87, Morricone’s victory may make him the oldest Oscar winner ever. The Academy only keeps age data for acting and directing categories, and no one in these categories has ever exceeded the age of 82, when Christopher Plummer won for Beginners.
The Academy has since released a statement saying it was not aware of a competitive award winner older than Morricone. Charlie Chaplin was 83 when he won an Oscar in 1973 for co-writing the score to Limelight.
His arrival on the stage of the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood Sunday night was greeted with a standing ovation by the assembled Hollywood elite. Morricone thanked the Academy for the award as well as the other contenders, saying: “My tribute goes to also to the other candidates and in particular to the esteemed John Williams.”
Williams was nominated for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, alongside Carter Burwell for Carol, Thomas Newman for Bridge of Spies, and Johann Johannsson for Sicario.
Morricone then continued paying homage to his director. “There isn’t a great soundtrack without a great movie that inspires it,” he said. “This is why I thank Quentin Tarantino for choosing me, as well as the producer Harvey Weinstein and the whole crew.”
While Tarantino, who has always been a huge fan of Morricone’s, has previously used his music in his films, including Kill Bill Vol.1 and Inglorious Basterds, this is the first time Morricone has composed an entire score for the director.
Morricone finished his speech addressing his wife, saying: “I dedicate this music and this award to my wife Maria.”
Italy’s Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini also tweeted: “Oscar to the Maestro Morricone: triumph of an all time giant.” And designers Dolce & Gabbana issued their congratulations to the composer, eager to point out that he was wearing one of their tuxedos.
Hollywood was also eager to congratulate the maestro. Quincy Jones, who presented to award to Morricone, called him his brother. Mia Farrow wrote that “Ennio Morricone has given us so many magnificent scores.”
And Josh Gad wrote: “I mean, can we talk about how unbelievably cool it is that #EnnioMorricone is still making a Oscar winning scores. Goosebumps.”
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival