Our 2022 Annual Report continues with the announcement of Hildur Guðnadóttir as our Composer of the Year. As the year winds down, stay tuned for more awards, lists, and articles about the best music, film, and TV of 2022. Plus, check out our Top 25 Films of 2022 list here.
Hildur Guðnadóttir has been crafting music for over 20 years and is the only woman to ever win an Academy Award for Best Original Score. And yet, she says, the industry’s innate sexism means that she still gets questioned as to whether she can do her job. “But yeah, she’s a woman. Can she really deal with working on a film score?” is the question she knows has been asked by execs over the years.
“I have had that quite a few times,” Consequence’s Composer of the Year says — even after winning the Oscar in 2020 for composing the bold score to Todd Phillips’ Joker. “I’m not going to name any names, but some executive that was in charge of whatever, he said, ‘But she can’t handle it.’ I don’t really know what more I need to prove to you.”
Guðnadóttir talks about it all with a bit of a laugh, as we sit outside her Beverly Hills hotel to discuss her incredible year as the composer behind Todd Field’s TÁR and Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, two of the year’s most acclaimed films. “I still have stuff said to me that, you know, you’d never hear this being said to a man. After two decades in this industry, I’m so used to it, so I just brush it off. But I really hope that in the future, women will not have to hear that.”
Maybe the solution is for her to win another Oscar? That’s not impossible to imagine happening in 2023. Consequence previously spoke in depth with Guðnadóttir about her work on TÁR, a project for which she was the second person hired. The first person hired was Cate Blanchett, for whom Field wrote the film about a complicated female composer, and Guðnadóttir began working on the score before production even began, creating music that captured the tone, mood, and rhythm of the project.
That’s unusual for many composers, but for Guðnadóttir it’s the way she prefers to work. “It just is so much more exciting to me, to work in that way. Because you just are so much more a part of the whole thing. For me, it’s so much about this process of creating together and having a dialogue and bouncing things back and forth and really living inside the story and creating a whole universe together, from scratch. I haven’t been able to access that way of working with a very short timeline and a locked cut.”