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Hildur Guðnadóttir: her talent is not a Joke

By Christopher Steele |

This awards season, will lightning strike more than once for the Icelandic composer and cellist?

Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir already won the Best Original Score Golden Globe for her soundtrack to Joker, Todd Phillips’ terrifying and chilling box office smash which gave Batman’s nemesis a backstory. Then, at the BAFTA awards in London, she won again for the same soundtrack.

Showing off her instrumental prowess scoring the film, she created theatrical moments which served to magnify the eerie tension of the various scenes. Phillips was aided in his representation of the marginalised and forgotten members of society by Joaquin Phoenix’s (equally award-winning) portrayal in the main role, with Guðnadóttir’s score providing a fittingly jarring backdrop: upbeat, joyous themes are contrasted with jolty, fractured and dark instrumentals.

The uneasy strings of the opening Hoyt’s Office set the pace from the beginning, followed by some scarier variations on the same theme thanks to the incessant, faded percussion. You could be forgiven for thinking this was the score for a mysterious and exotic thriller noir, and not a film set in a retro-dystopian New York. But such is the evocative power of Joker’s theme, with the composer really shifting what makes a comic book adaptation nowadays.

With her Golden Globe, Hildur Guðnadóttir is the first solo woman to have won this category. She will be looking to emulate her Golden Globe and BAFTA success this evening in Los Angeles at the Oscars, where she is nominated again!

All the more impressive: she composed the score for Joker at the same time as she composed the score to the TV mini-series Chernobyl, which itself earned her both an Emmy and a Grammy as well!


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