Icelandic composer Hildur Gudnadottir won the Academy Award for Best Original Score for Todd Phillips’s Joker. She is the first woman to win in this category since Anne Dudley for The Full Monty (1997).
Gudnadottir has had a clean sweep this awards season, also winning at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs. Her first Oscar win follows her maiden Primetime Emmy triumph for the score of the HBO series Chernobyl in 2019.
Gudnadottir’s mostly cello-based score for Joker is filled with foreboding, menace and pathos. A classically trained cellist, Gudnadottir scored much of Joker’s music before the shoot. The now-memorable bathroom dance sequence in Joker was not in the script. Inspired by the music for the scene, lead actor Joaquin Phoenix improvised the dance after listening to her score.
“It was just mind-blowing to see how that communication could travel with so little speaking about it,” the 37-year-old composer told Deadline. “It was one of the most beautiful collaborative moments I think I’ve had.”