While the Academy Awards have again been criticized this year for their lack of recognition for female filmmakers, one category at this year’s Oscars just provided a major breakthrough for women, and it was for Joker.
The film’s composer Hildur Guðnadóttir became the first woman to win Best Original Score at the Oscars as the category is currently structured.
The award comes after the Icelandic musician’s domination of this year’s award season, not only winning at the BAFTA and Golden Globe for her score on Joker, but an Emmy and a Grammy as well for her work on the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Within a year Guðnadóttir has now become one Tony Award away from EGOT status.
In her Oscar speech, after thanking the Academy, and Joker producers Todd Phillips and Bradley Cooper, Guðnadóttir took a moment at the end of her speech to say “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.”
The Joker composer’s achievement does come with some caveats. While Guðnadóttir is the first woman to win in the Best Original Score category as we’ve known it for the past two decades, she is not the first woman to win an Academy Award for score; that would be Marilyn Bergman, who shared a Best Original Song Score Oscar with her husband Alan and Michel Legrand for their work on Yentl. Female composers Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley won the Best Original Musical or Comedy Score Oscar back to back in 1996 and 1997 for their scores on Emma and The Full Monty respectively, but neither Song Score, Adaptation Score, nor genre specifications have applied to Academy Awards for film scores since 1999.