Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score for Joker won her the Golden Globe for Best Original Score at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Also nominated in this category were Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Thomas Newman for 1917 and Daniel Pemberton for Motherless Brooklyn.
The Icelandic composer is the first woman to win in this category as a solo composer. The only other woman to have received this award previously is Lisa Gerrard, who won alongside Hans Zimmer in 2000 for Gladiator.
Guðnadóttir has already had a hugely successful year, winning her first Emmy Award and Grammy Nomination in 2019 for her score to HBO’s Chernobyl.
The score to the psychological thriller Joker – a film based on the DC Comic character and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the eponymous antihero – features the cello as a central voice. Guðnadóttir initially trained as a cellist and has recorded several solo cello albums, which director Todd Phillips was particularly interested in. The lower registers of the cello are exploited throughout Joker‘s score, creating an ominous atmosphere and throbbing bass.
Alongside Guðnadóttir’s score sit a few songs from the worlds of musical theatre and pop music: ‘That’s Life’, performed and recorded most notably by Frank Sinatra in 1966; ‘Send in the Clowns’ from the musical A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim; and ‘Rock and Roll Part 2’ by Gary Glitter.
Guðnadóttir has previously worked closely with the late film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, in films such as Mary Magdalene and television series including Trapped.
Listen to the score in full here: