Denmark gets (partial) Oscar nods

The Lego Movie may have been snubbed at the Oscars, but as if to compensate, Song of the Sea, the Irish animated film which knocked it from the nominations, was largely made by a Danish studio, while a Danish-Polish film is in the running for best Foreign Language Film.

Denmark gets (partial) Oscar nods
The Danish-Polish film Ida is nominated in the Foreign Language Film category. Photo: Opus Film/Music Box Films
As much as 40 percent of the animation for Song of the Sea was done in Viborg by Nørlum, the Danish studio which also co-produced the film. 
"It means a whole lot to be nominated for an Oscar," said Frederik Villumsen, the studio's founder. "We are very proud to have helped to make Song of the Sea. To  be honest, we are not the favourites, but I think that the film is a good underdog." 

Ida, a Polish production made with support from the Danish Film Institute, was also announced as an Oscar nominee on Thursday.  The film is primarily about a young Polish woman in the 1960s preparing to take her vows as a nun (see the trailer below). 
Ida will face off against Russian film Leviathan, which on Sunday claimed the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. The other entries in the category are Estonia/Georgian film Tangerines, Argentine black comedy Wild Tales and French-Mauritanian drama Timbuktu. 
Denmark’s other best hope for having a horse in the Oscars race was The Lego Movie, the Hollywood blockbuster based on the world-famous Danish toys. That movie, however, was not nominated in the Best Animated Featured Film category, though it did garner a nod for the best original song with Everything is Awesome. 
The Lego Movie’s director, Phil Lord, didn’t seem too put out by the apparent snub, however: 
The Oscars will be handed out on February 22nd in Los Angeles. Neil Patrick Harris will host. 

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‘Another Round’: a spirited Oscar-winning ode to life

Danish film ‘Another Round’ (‘Druk’ in the original Danish), which won an Oscar on Sunday for best international feature film, is a dark existential comedy about the joys and dangers of being drunk, and letting go to embrace life.

'Another Round': a spirited Oscar-winning ode to life
Thomas Vinterberg accepts the Oscar for International Feature Film on behalf of Denmark.Photo: A.m.p.a.s/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

It is the fourth Danish film to win an Oscar for best non-English language film, after ‘In A Better World’ in 2011, ‘Pelle the Conqueror’ in 1989 and ‘Babette’s Feast’ in 1988.

Filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg, who is also nominated for best director, gave a moving, tearful speech, paying tribute to his daughter Ida, who was killed in a car accident four days after shooting began in May 2019.

“We ended up making this movie for her, as her monument,” Vinterberg said at the gala in Los Angeles.

“So, Ida, this is a miracle that just happened, and you’re a part of this miracle. Maybe you’ve been pulling some strings somewhere, I don’t know. But this one is for you.”

The movie is set around four old friends, all teachers at a high school near Copenhagen. Martin, played by Mads Mikkelsen, is a history teacher going through a midlife crisis, depressed about his monotone life.

To spice things up, the quartet decides to test an obscure theory that humans are born with a small deficit of alcohol in their blood, resolving to keep their blood alcohol level at a constant 0.05 percent from morning till night.

At first, they experience the liberating joys of inebriation, before things quickly go from bad to worse. 

But the film refrains from passing moral judgement or glorifying alcohol.

“‘Another Round’ is imagined as a tribute to life. As a reclaiming of the irrational wisdom that casts off all anxious common sense and looks down into the very delight of lust for life … although often with deadly consequences,” Vinterberg said when the movie came out last year.

Vinterberg was devastated by the loss of his daughter, and production on the movie was briefly halted, but he soon resumed shooting.

He said he was spurred on by a letter she had written about her enthusiasm for the project, in which she was to have had a role.

But the film took on a new dimension.

“The film wasn’t going to be just about drinking anymore. It had to be about being brought back to life,” Vinterberg said in the only in-depth interview he has given about her death, in June 2020 to Danish daily Politiken.

Selected for the 2020 Cannes Film Festival which ended up being cancelled due to the pandemic, ‘Another Round has already won several awards, including a BAFTA for best film not in the English language, and a Cesar in France for best foreign film.

The film is carried by Mikkelsen, who previously teamed up with Vinterberg in the 2012 psychological thriller ‘The Hunt’ (‘Jagten’).

In one of the most talked-about scenes in ‘Another Round’, Mikkelsen even shows off his dance talent — the former Bond villain was a professional contemporary dancer before becoming an actor.

READ ALSO: How Danish Oscar-nominated dark booze comedy was inspired by director’s tragic loss