The Danish Oscar Contenders

Thursday September 3rd, 2015 The Danish Film Institute announced which three films will compete to be the official Danish Foreign Oscar contender for 2015. That's the award show that take place February 28th, 2016.

And today they made their final choice.

I thought it might be fun to look at the options these films were picked from.


To compete in the Oscar race in the foreign film category the following rules must be observed:

A) The film must be shown to the public between October 1st 2014, and September 30th 2015.
B) It must not be in English (sorry Trier)
C) It must not have been shown on TV first.

Apparently there are no rules that state the film must be in the local language, just that it must not be in English. Kind of weird if you ask me.


26 feature films and 5 documentaries were eligible.

We can discard a few titles up front. Films aimed at children or even families won't stand a chance. Neither will colossal box office failures or critically ravaged films. So immediately we can get rid of these options:

The kid flicks

  • Albert
  • Antboy 2: Den Røde Furies hævn
  • Dannys dommedag
  • Familien Jul
  • Krummerne - Alt på spil
  • Min søsters børn og guldgraverne
  • Skammerens datter

Unseen or just hated

  • Comeback
  • Encounters
  • I dine hænder
  • Jens Munk NordvestXpeditionen
  • Rosita

The mainstream fodder

  • Fasandræberne
  • Klovn forever

The Documentaries

These are not completely without a chance, on paper, but realistically speaking documentaries are rarely picked for the foreign Oscar race, and they need a certain cachet to break that 'rule'.

  • Cirkusdynastiet
  • Ekstrabladet: Uden for Citat
  • Fassbinder: At elske uden at kræve
  • Skyggen af en helt


So, after getting rid of these weak contenders, we're left with 13 movies, which could conceivably be picked as an official Danish foreign Oscar entry.

Note: A film needs to sell more than 200.000 tickets to be considered a hit. Preferably more than 300.000 to be called a 'blockbuster'. Yes, we're a small country. Get over it.

Stille hjerte
Bille August (Pelle the Conqueror) directs this drama about a mother who plans to kill herself before she succumbs to an incurable disease. Her family gathers around her for an emotional goodbye during a weekend. A hit with critics and audiences. Was expected to be one of the three shortlisted films.

Tickets sold: 258.868

All inclusive
Two daughters take their mother to Malta to celebrate her 60th birthday, in an effort to cheer her up after her husband walks out on her. Lots of drama and sexy times ensues. Directed by insufferable 'comic' Hella Joof.

Tickets sold: 307.207

En chance til
Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit) returns to her roots, but squanders home-field advantage with this tame drama about a cop who steals a baby from a junkie couple, to raise it as his own with his wife.

Tickets sold: 215.873

Based on the true story about Eik Skaløe, lead singer of the single-album acid rockband Steppeulvene, who in 1962 meets the girl of his dreams, only to commit suicide 6 years later at the age of 25. Ole Christian Madsen (Flammen & Citronen) directs. The movie was met with sympathy from critics, but largely ignored by moviegoers.

Tickets sold: 39.430

Mennesker bliver spist
National treasure, entertainer, writer, debater Erik Clausen directs and stars in this well-received dramady about a man who suffers from Alzheimer, and how his family suddenly realize how special he is, and how much they love him.

Tickets sold: 237.429

9. april
All-out good guy Roni Ezra (yes, I know him in real life) directs this straightforward war movie, about an often ignored part of world war II: The small group of Danish solders who took a stand when the Germans invaded. Unfortunately they didn't get the memo about us not putting up a fight. Largely well-received, though the general consensus was that it's not a terribly deep film. Would probably have done very well, if submitted to the Oscars.

Tickets sold: 241.391

The true story of driven investigative reporter Poul Brink and his search for the truth in the case of the 1968 crash of an American plane carrying nuclear bombs at the Thule base in Greenland. The film doesn't really work, but the story is fascinating. Audiences stayed away in droves.

Tickets sold: 44.718

Lang historie kort
The story about a group of thirty-something friends, their lives and especially their love lives, told in 8 chapters, each taking place during a party. Well-received by critics.

Tickets sold: 136.609

A historic drama about a young man's fight against slavery in 1836 on the Gold Cost of Africa. A gorgeous movie, but critics were divided about the quality of the story and the acting. One called it nature-porn.

Tickets sold: 72.705

Sommeren '92
Another true story, this one concerns the fairytale story of the Danish national soccer team who surprised everyone and won the European championship in 1992. It's also the story about the coach Richard Møller Nielsen and his controversial methods. Largely well-received and could have been an intersting choice for an Oscar bid, if anyone in the States cared about soccer.

Ticket sold: 197.050 (and counting)


Finally we've made it to the top, and the three movies shortlisted by The Danish Film Institute. They are:

Mænd og høns
Writer and director Anders Thomas Jensen created this so-called comedy about grotesque, ugly people doing stupid things. The cream of the crop of Danish actors dirty themselves up to play a group of brothers, and then not much happens. It's unclear what director Jensen is trying to accomplish, most of all to himself, all I know is that it doesn't work. At all. Seems odd that this distinctly un-Danish film should be picked to represent the country.

Tickets sold: 357.850

The Look of Silence
A documentary from American Joshua Oppenheimer, who also directed the morally dubious The Act of Killing, and once again the subject is Indonesia. I'm not sure how this counts as a Danish film by any stretch of the imagination, but there we are.

Tickets sold: 1.368

From director Tobias Lindholm, who also did the dull Kapringen, comes this story about the controversial war in Afghanistan, and one man caught up in its horrors, played by Pilou Asbæk. The subject matter alone would make this the ideal choice for an Oscar bid, not to mention the the fact that both foreign and domestic critics seem to love it.

Tickets sold: 45.829 (just released)


And the final choice is.... Krigen! Probably the movie with the best chance, but realistically speaking, we're not expecting Denmark to get a nomination this year, when the final five are annuounced. Oh Well....