Joker‘s Hildur Gudnadóttir won the Oscar for best original score at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. The Icelandic musician and composer is the first woman to win for a dramatic composition.
Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley previously won for best original musical or comedy score. Portman won for Emma in 1996, and Dudley for The Full Monty in 1997. The Academy combined the two score categories — the former, and best dramatic score — into a single category in 2000. The categories had been previously split after Disney animated films won best original score six years in a row from 1990 to 1995. The Academy’s music branch split the categories in an effort to broaden the scope of entries, but this change proved unpopular with the rest of the Academy.
With this win under her belt, Gudnadóttir is now only a Tony award away from achieving the coveted EGOT, an informal collection of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. Only 15 people have won all four.
Presenting the award were Gal Gadot, Brie Larson and Sigourney Weaver.
Fellow nominees in the category included Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Thomas Newman for 1917 and John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
During her acceptance speech, Gudnadóttir thanked Joker director Todd Phillips, her husband Sam, her mother and her son. She finished her acceptance speech with a call-to-arms to creative women all over the world.
“To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up — we need to hear your voices,” Gudnadóttir said.
The composer also won an Golden Globe in addition to taking home BAFTA and Critics’ Choice awards for scoring Joker. She also previously scored the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries Chernobyl.
Backstage, Gudnadóttir explained her feelings immediately after learning that she had won: “It’s a wild moment. As I got onstage and saw everyone standing — it floored me. It is intimidating, What has been really special about the whole process, I have been meeting a lot of [the nominees] in that journey, and that has been so incredible. They are such masters of the craft, and it has been magical to get to know them.”
She went on to describe the process of composing during Joker‘s production: “The music was able to inspire Joaquin’s performances, and I didn’t know that was going to be the process. When Todd sent me the first dailies and that was the first thing they sent me, it was so incredible that that was Joaquin’s channel through the music.”
The 2020 Oscars aired live on ABC from the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood.