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French composer Alexandre Desplat is the son of a Greek mother and a French father who met in the U.S. while both were attending the University of California at Berkeley, married in San Francisco, and settled in France. He began studying the piano at age five, later switching to trumpet and then flute. Fascinated by both music and film, he decided to pursue a career as a composer of movie scores. Starting with Ki Lo Sa? in 1985, his scores for television and film had reached a total of 100 by 2007. In these works, he developed a contemplative style that did not attempt to respond on a point-by-point basis to the action onscreen, but rather set its own complementary mood. He began to attract attention in the U.S. with The Luzhin Defence in 2000, which had a soundtrack album released in America by Silva Screen Records. His music for Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003) earned a Golden Globe nomination, and with that recognition he began to work increasingly on English-language films distributed by the Hollywood studios, including Birth (2004), The Upside of Anger (2005), Hostage (2005), Casanova (2005), Syriana (2005) (also nominated for a Golden Globe), Firewall (2006), and The Painted Veil (2006) (a Golden Globe Award winner), all of which produced soundtrack albums. The Queen (2006) earned him his first Academy Award nomination. He received his second Oscar nomination in 2008 for his work on David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and again in 2010 for Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. More high profile film scores followed, including both installments of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Argo, Philomena, and in 2014, both the Imitation Game and the Grand Budapest Hotel, the latter of which saw him land his first Academy Award win. ~ William Ruhlmann