Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir is already in the history books after she won the best original score Oscar for “Joker” (2019). Now, she could break a new record with two bonafide awards contenders.
Todd Field’s “Tár,” a fictional psychological drama about one of the greatest living composers and conductors, has received critical acclaim after debuting at many of the fall film festivals. One of the highly praised elements was the incredible music featured in the film. However, in a movie about a composer, many casual cinema-goers were left wondering what was original or pre-purposed (unless you are an expert on musical compositions). Focus Features has confirmed to Variety exclusively that the film’s music by Guðnadóttir meets the requirement for Academy Awards and will be submitted for consideration.
Final determinations for eligibility are ultimately made by the Academy’s music branch. For a score to qualify, a film must feature music written specifically for the film by the submitting composer. Some pre-existing music is allowed by a contending film, but it must include a minimum of 60% original music in order to qualify.
In addition to original score for Guðnadóttir, “Tár” is being submitted in the following categories: best picture (Todd Field, Scott Lambert, Alexandra Milchan), directing, actress (Cate Blanchett), supporting actress (Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer), original screenplay (Field), cinematography (Florian Hoffmeister), film editing (Monika Willi), production design (Marco Bittner Rosser, Ernestine Hipper), costume design (Bina Daigeler) and makeup/hairstyling and sound (eligibilities to be determined).
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In addition to “Tár,” Guðnadóttir also composed Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” for MGM/United Artists Releasing, which also received critical praise. If nominated for both entries, Guðnadóttir would be the first woman to receive two nominations for original score in the same year, a category that has often double-dipped for her male counterparts, most recently for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (“Mank” and “Soul” in 2020). Coincidentally, the Oscar-winning duo is in the running once again with a pair of acclaimed chords from Luca Guadgnino’s “Bones & All” and Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light.”
Simply returning to the ceremony with one of her eligible films will put Guðnadóttir on a small list. She’d be the third woman to receive more than one nom for original score, after Angela Morley (1974’s “The Little Prince” and 1977’s “The Slipper and the Rose”) and Rachel Portman (winner for 1996’s “Emma” and nominated for 1999’s “The Cider House Rules” and 2000’s “Chocolat”). Portman is the most-nominated woman with three nods and Guðnadóttir has a shot to tie that very record.
Guðnadóttir was recently honored at the Toronto Film Festival with the Variety artisan award for her work. “Tár” will screen at the New York Film Festival before it begins its limited theatrical run on Oct. 7.