Twenty-five years after winning his first Oscar, Elton John picked up his second at Sunday night’s (Feb. 9) 2020 Academy Awards, where Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir marked a historic night for female musicians.
John won his second best original song award for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from his biopic Rocketman, sharing the honor with longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin. John won an Oscar with Tim Rice for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from the original The Lion King at the 1995 Academy Awards.
“Thank you to Bernie, who has been the constant thing in my life when I was screwed up, when I was normal — he’s always been there for me,” John said onstage.
“This is just justification for 53 years of just hammering out and doing what we do,” Taupin said. John and Taupin beat out Diane Warren, Randy Newman, Cynthia Erivo and the husband-wife duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez to win the prize.
John, 72, has won a Tony Award and five Grammys, and only needs an Emmy to join the elite clubs of EGOTs.
Guðnadóttir, 37, is in a similar position: In just six short months, the classically trained cellist from Iceland has become an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar winner.
She picked up best original score Sunday for Joker and she joins a small group of women to win the prize for scoring music, including Marilyn Bergman, Rachel Portman and Anne Dudley, who was the last woman to win the honor for The Full Monty at the 1998 show.
She received a standing ovation for close to a minute from the audience. “To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up,” she said. “We need to hear your voices.”
Guðnadóttir won an Emmy and Grammy for her work on the hit HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Before Guðnadóttir’s big win, Eimear Noone performed as the first female conductor in the 92-history of the Academy Awards.
Billie Eilish, who won five Grammys two weeks ago, also hit the stage Sunday to perform during the In Memoriam segment with her producer-brother Finneas. All of the original songs nominated were also performed.
Eminem, who won best original song for “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile in 2003 but skipped the show, surprised the audience with a performance of the rap smash. Singer-actress Janelle Monae was also a highlight, kicking off the show with “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and weaving new, relevant lyrics into her own song “Come Alive,” with some help from the multi-faceted Billy Porter.
“I’m so proud to be standing here as a black queer artist telling stories,” Monae said. “Happy Black History Month.”