Sweden picks Palme d’Or winner ‘The Square’ for Oscars

2017 Palme d'Or winner "The Square" has been announced as Sweden's pick for the Best Foreign Language award at the forthcoming Oscars.

Sweden picks Palme d'Or winner 'The Square' for Oscars
Ruben Östlund's "The Square" has already won the Palme d'Or. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

The satire on political correctness caused a major upset in May when it was awarded the most prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival by a jury including Pedro Almodovar.

READ ALSO: The Square stuns Cannes with Palme d'Or win

Now, it has a chance to become Sweden's first Best Foreign Language Film winner since Ingmar Bergman's Fanny and Alexander took the Oscar in 1983 – provided the Academy Awards jury send it through to the five-film shortlist in January.

Director Ruben Östlund told The Local he's pleased, though he considers the Palme d'Or to be a greater honour:

“It's great. The Oscars are the world's second best film awards, so it's nice.”

“The Palme d'Or is definitely more important. That has only been handed out 70 times ever, whereas there are loads of people with Oscars,” he elaborated.

Östlund's tone contrasts that of a parody video he released the last time one of his movies had a chance to earn an Oscar. In 2015 he made the video “Swedish director freaks out when he misses out on Oscar nomination” about a “shocking snub” for Force Majeure after it failed to make the final Best Foreign Language Film shortlist.

The clip, which comes with the description “worst man cry ever” has been watched almost 150,000 times on Youtube.

Östlund thinks his chances are better this time however – understandably, after the Cannes win:

“It has been given really good reviews in the US, so that's a sign it could go down well with the Oscars academy members.”

In his sights next is the world of fashion. The Gothenburg native is now already in the process of attempting to follow up The Square's success.

“I'm working on a film called Triangle of Sadness just now, which is about the fashion and cosmetics industry,” he revealed.

The last Palme d’Or winner to go on and win a Best Foreign Language Oscar was Michael Haneke’s “Amour” in 2013. The Square will be released in Swedish cinemas on August 25th.


‘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