Hildur Guðnadóttir sets record for highest number of awards ever received by a female film composer in a single season
The Icelandic composer ends her highly successful season, winning Best Original Score for Joker at the Academy Awards
The film awards season reached its finale last night with the Oscars. Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir continued her spectacular season of success, taking home the Oscar for Best Original Score for ‘Joker’. With this, she sets the record for the highest number of awards ever received by a female composer in a single season.
This follows successes at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, all of which had not previously had a solo female winner, making Guðnadóttir the first.
It’s not only Guðnadóttir’s score for ‘Joker’ that has attracted attention this awards season: her similarly haunting score for the HBO miniseries Chernobyl won her both a Grammy and an Emmy, the first solo female composer to win both awards.
Guðnadóttir is only the fourth woman in history to win the Academy Award for Best Original Score, the first in 23 years. In her speech at this year’s ceremony, she inspired future female film composers: ‘To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up – we need your voices’.
Guðnadóttir's score for Joker was up against Randy Newman's Marriage Story, Alexandre Desplat's Little Women, Thomas Newman's 1917 and John Williams's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This was the first time Guðnadóttir and Randy Newman received nominations in this particular category, but the other composers nominated had received nominations in previous years: it was the second year in a row for Alexandre Desplat, and was the 52nd nomination for Hollywood legend John Williams.
Despite having 11 nominations across the board at this year's Oscars, Joker only took home two: one for Best Original Score and another for Best Actor, which was awarded to the film's protagonist, played by Joaquin Phoenix.
Read more about Hildur Guðnadóttir here.
Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.