The 88th Academy Awards ceremony was held on Sunday, February 28th in the same splendor as it always is. This year, much was made of the Best Actor category, with Leonardo DiCaprio winning his first Oscar after five previous nominations and nearly thirty years on the big screen. Amid the controversy that surrounded this year’s awards, most agreed that this award was well deserved.
However, there was another veteran of the silver screen honored that night – one that you know well, though you might not know his face or even recognize his name. That man is Ennio Morricone and he is a 50-year veteran of Hollywood. After five nominations, he finally won his first Oscar for Best Original Score in 2016 for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, the first film by Tarantino to have a completely original soundtrack. While Morricone was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 2007 for a lifetime of contribution to the business, he had never won an award in one of the regular categories. Now in 2016, he is twice rewarded – first with the Oscar and second with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Looking back on Morricone’s career, it is hard not to be surprised that this was his first win. In fact, while the Academy Award was an amazing honor, more amazing is the extent to which Morricone has influenced movie scores over his lifetime. Though Morricone had worked on many movie scores before, his first big break was in Sergio Leone’s classic A Fistful of Dollars and he would go on to score the entire Dollars trilogy. This included the theme to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, arguably one of the most iconic soundtracks in movie history.
But it was not just westerns that Morricone left his mark on. He wrote several well-known scores, including The Untouchables, which won a Grammy in 1988. It was the first of four Grammy wins for Morricone. He also scored a number of other hit movies, such as 1990’s Hamlet, The Mission, Once Upon a Time in America, In the Line of Fire, Bugsy, and many more.
All told, Morricone has scored over five hundred films, with his music being reused in more than a hundred and fifty more. Very few men or women have had the immense impact that Morricone has had on the industry and even fewer have done so with so little public acclaim. Of course, those in the business know him well and know him as one of the most accomplished musicians in the history of Hollywood. Now, finally, we all have the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate this astounding composer.
Congratulations, Ennio Morricone, on your well deserved Academy Award!