Oscars 2020: Joker Wins Best Original Score

Sunday night was Hollywood's night to shine with the 2020 Academy Awards taking place in Los Angeles and was a big night for Joker. The Todd Phillips-directed film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, among them being a Best Original Score nod for Hildur Guðnadóttir. With Guðnadóttir having already taken home the British Academy Film Award, the Critics' Choice Award, the Golden Globe Award, and more in comparable categories, Joker was a favorite to bring home the Oscar as well and indeed it did. Guðnadóttir’s haunting score for Joker won Best Original Score, beating out Alexandre Desplat for Little Women, Randy Newman for Marriage Story, Thomas Newman for 1917, and John Williams for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The honor is the first Academy Award for Guðnadóttir who previously spoke about how she crafted the music for Joker in Joker: Vision & Fury, a making-of documentary included as part of the Joker home release special features.

“I started writing the music just after reading the script,” Guðnadóttir said. “So I just started playing with cello a bit, which is my main instrument, and just played around with some melodies and the feelings and I kind of sat with it for a few hours. And then I was actually practicing something else, and I kind of stumbled onto what became the main theme afterwards. It was just like a feeling strong feeling of something clicking into place, because it just connected with exactly the same feeling that I’d had when I read the script.”

Director Phillips also spoke about the importance of the music of Joker, explaining that the now-famous improvised bathroom scene in the film was only fully realized once set to Guðnadóttir's theme, sent to Phillips just a day earlier. The star “loved it,” Phillips says in Vision & Fury, “and he just started doing this dance to it.”

“I think it’s a really great moment in the movie, and it’s a really much more effective way of illustrating the beginning of the transformation, with grace that kind of comes out of nowhere. You kind of feel that he has it in him,” the director said of the impromptu bathroom dance. “We wrote in the script there’s a certain elegance to him, and a certain romance … he has it in him. There’s music in him, so to speak. But that’s the first time we really see it come out.”

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Joker is now available on home release.

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