Ennio Morricone Oscars 2016
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The maestro finally has a competitive Oscar.

Ennio Morricone claimed the best original score Oscar Sunday night for his work on Quentin Tarantino’s Western “The Hateful Eight,” the first competitive Oscar for the 87-year-old composer to date.

Morricone, who received an honorary Oscar in 2007, has been nominated five previous times, for “Days of Heaven,” “The Mission,” “The Untouchables,” “Bugsy” and “Malena.” All of that came, of course, many years after his iconic work with Sergio Leone on films like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

Morricone composed the score without even seeing the film, conjuring it after a lengthy conversation with Tarantino at his Rome home and a reading of the screenplay. It was unusual for Tarantino in that he had never commissioned an original score for one of his films before, but familiar in that he could use the material and drop it in where he saw fit, not unlike the way he’s accustomed to dropping in songs and snippets of other film scores in his work.

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“There was something about this movie, more than the others — and maybe I was a little precious about it — but I thought it deserved its own theme, something that hadn’t been in anything else,” Tarantino said at the film’s first guild screening in November.

Harvey Weinstein quipped at his annual night-before Oscars shindig Saturday that if Morricone did not win the prize, he and Tarantino “are going to be in the witness protection program in Naples.” They can put a hold on those plans now.

“The Hateful Eight” was also nominated for best supporting actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and best cinematography.

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