‘Joker’ composer Hildur Guðnadóttir first woman in 20 years to win Academy Award for original score

Hildur Guðnadóttir
Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose score for “Joker” won the Academy Award for original score.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

“Joker” composer Hildur Guðnadóttir won the Academy Award for original score. The Icelandic composer is just the fourth woman to win in the Oscars’ scoring categories, and the first since 1997.

The 37-year-old Guðnadóttir, who first came to prominence in the Icelandic experimental band Múm, previously won the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards for her “Joker” score. The last woman to win in the category was British composer Anne Dudley, who won for 1997’s “The Full Monty.” Only seven women have ever been nominated in the Oscars’ scoring categories.

Guðnadóttir concluded her acceptance speech with a call to arms: “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.”


In an interview with The Times last year, Guðnadóttir described the tense, brooding score as reflective of the turmoil in the titular character’s mind: “Those are the kind of forces that are trying to push through. ... Those are the forces that he hasn’t really figured out yet. The last time we hear this theme is the most angry version of it — it has massive drums, and the whole orchestra’s just like suffocated the cello. It’s still there, but the anger has taken over Arthur.”

Guðnadóttir previously won a Grammy and an Emmy for her score for HBO’s “Chernobyl,” and performed on the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s widely-praised scores for “Arrival” and “Sicario.”

Her “Joker” score bested competitors including “1917,” “Little Women,” “Marriage Story” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”