Legendary composer Ennio Morricone is finally a competitive Oscar winner.
The Italian-born Morricone won best original score at the Academy Awards on Sunday night for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s epic Western The Hateful Eight.
The 87-year-old composer was nominated five times prior to this year, scoring his first nod for Days of Heaven. His other nominations came for The Mission, The Untouchables, Bugsy, and Malèna. Morricone was awarded an honorary Oscar at the 2007 ceremony.
Morricone received a standing ovation from the audience, before giving his speech in Italian. “Thank you to the Academy for this prestigious honor,” he said through an interpreter. Morricone gave special mention to fellow nominee John Williams, before thanking Tarantino for giving him the opportunity.
Born in Rome, Morricone shot to prominence thanks to his scores for Clint Eastwood’s run of 1960s Spaghetti Westerns (his theme from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly remains one of the most recognizable in cinema history).
Tarantino has often used Morricone’s music in his films, but this is the first time the director had commissioned a score for one of his projects. Going into the ceremony, it was expected that Morricone would win. “He’s going to win,” The Hateful Eight producer Harvey Weinstein said on Friday. “I just want to thank the maestro for so many hours of incredible enjoyment, so many hours of education. And Sunday night we are going to rock the house!”