by Nathaniel R.
If you’ve been reading about Cinema Experience for a while, you know that your host here is passionate about Scandinavian cinema. I’m part Danish and have lived in Norway and the two combined sparked interest around the time the Oscars took over my life. When it comes to the Best International Feature Film category at the Oscars, the common wisdom is that France, Italy and Spain reign supreme, but that’s only because they have the most stats “of them all. the temperature”. If you look at more recent history, it’s a much different story. For example, in the 22 years of the 21st century to date, Norway has doubled its meager number of nominations and Denmark has more than doubled its number of previous nominations. In fact, Denmark is currently tied for first in terms of favorite foreign country at the Oscars of the 21st century so far (8 nominations and 2 wins…which Germany also has. Only Sweden, once a Scandinavian country favorite of the Oscars, has lost momentum.
Long story short, Denmark should always be watched closely in the race for the Oscars. After the jump, their three finalists for their 2022 Oscar submission as well as their storied Oscar history overall…
THE THREE FINALISTS
HOLY SPIDER (Ali Abbasi)
holy spider is inspired by the true story of a serial killer who preyed on sex workers in early Iran. Zar Amir Ebrahimi won Best Actress at Cannes for her performance as a journalist investigating the murders. (Elisa saw him again in Cannes) We don’t know exactly how he calls himself Danish since Abbasi is Iranian-Swedish, but he went to film school in Denmark, so maybe enough of the team is Danish? Abassi has already been submitted by Sweden for the brilliant and bizarre procedural romantic mythological drama Border. The film hits Danish theaters in October. holy spider also has US distribution of Utopia but no release date has been announced.
FOREVER (Frelle Petersen)
A drama about parents and their daughter mourning their son/brother. It was released this summer in Denmark.
LIKE IN HEAVEN (Tea Lindeburg)
This feature debut for Lindeburg was a critical success when it was released in Denmark earlier this year and also an award-winning hit on the festival circuit from the fall of last year. It’s about a young girl from the 19th century whose life suddenly changes when her mother has difficulty giving birth.
We suspect they will choose Like in paradise but you never know! They will announce at the end of September.
🇩🇰 DENMARK OSCAR STATS
Submission since 1956 (the very first year of the contest)
59 total submissions
14 nominations (and 2 additional finalists)
- Qivitoc (Balling, 1956) Candidate
A romantic drama about Danes living in Greenland
- Be Dear to Me (Hovmand, 1957)
It is the first film directed by a woman ever submitted to the Oscars in the international category.
- Paw (Henning-Jensen, 1959) Candidate
Holds the distinction of being the first film directed by a woman ever nominated in the international category
- Harry and the Butler (1961) Candidate
- Gertrude (Dreyer, 1965)
The legendary career of Carl Theodor Dreyer began in silent films, and this part of his career ended with a real masterpiece (The Passion of Joan or Arc). He only made 5 talkies in the following decades of his life, the last of which was submitted by Denmark but the Academy passed.
- Hunger (Carlsen, 1966)
- Tree of Knowledge (Mamos, 1981)
These two dramas, the first a historical social realism film, and the second shot over two years in high school for the actors to age with the film, were both highly acclaimed and are just two of twelve films officially marked as “canon. culture” in Denmark in the Aughts.
- Babette’s Feast (Axel, 1987) Winner
- Pelle the Conqueror (August 1988) Winner
- Wedding Memories (Rostrup, 1989) Candidate
- The Celebration (Vinterberg, 1998)
One of the most famous and best modern Danish films. Thomas Vinterberg’s brutal drama of dysfunctional family secrets put the cinema manifesto “Dogma ’95” on the world map. Alas, the Academy has passed, missing out on a key but short-lived cinematic movement of the late ’90s and early ’80s.
- Open Hearts (Bier, 2002)
The beginnings of Susanne Bier. Although the Academy did not respond, they quickly fell in love with Bier growing.
- After the wedding (Bier, 2006) Candidate
- In a better world (Bier, 2010) Winner
Unfortunately since this victory, Bier no longer works in Danish but mostly does television in English.
- Land of Mine (Zanvliet, 2016) Candidate
One of the most underrated Best International Feature Film nominees of recent years. Very effective drama about the tensions between Germans and Danes after the Second World War. The star role of Louis Hoffman!
- The Guilty (Möller, 2018)
This emergency online thriller made the finale and was so well received (and cheaply made) that it prompted a quick American remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
- Another Round (Vinterberg, 2020) Winner
- Flee (Rasmussen, 2021) Candidate
The first film to earn a triple nomination in the Specialties category at the Oscars: Documentary, Animation and International Feature Films
Denmark’s Most Award-Winning Artists at the Oscars
- Tambi Larsen (5 nominations and 1 win in Production Design)
- Thomas Vinterberg (1 nomination in the Best Director category. Plus 2 nominations and 1 win in the Best International Film category**)
- Viggo Mortensen* (3 nominations in the Best Actor category)
- Jonas Poher Rasmussen (3 nominations for the same film, To run awayin Documentary, Animated Feature and Best International Film**)
- Gale Sondegaard* (2 nominations and 1 win in Supporting Actress)
- Susanne Bier (2 nominations and 1 win in the Best International Film** category)
- [TIE] Dan Laustsen (2 names in cinematography) and Mikael Salomon (2 nominations, one in cinematography and one in visual effects)
- [TIE] Mikkel EG Nielsen (1 nomination and 1 win in Film Editing) plus Max Rae and Anna Asp (1 nomination and 1 win in Production Design for both, separately)
*Although born in the United States, they have dual citizenship (first generation Americans, born to one or two Danish parents)
**we realize international movie nominations don’t technically belong to the director, but we think they should, so we’re including it in these trivia lists.
Most Frequently Submitted Foreign Film Directors
- Nils Mamros (4 submissions, none were nominated)
- Thomas Vinterberg AND Susanne Bier (3 submissions, 2 nominated and 1 won)
- Billie August (3 submissions, 1 was nominated and won)
- Erik Balling (3 submissions, 1 nominee)
- Henning Carlsen (3 submissions, none were nominated)
- Kaspar Rostrup (2 submitted, 1 nominated)
- Annelise HovmannErik Klausen and Morten Arnfred (2 submissions each, none nominated)