Friday, April 19, 2024

Review: Danish Director Thomas Vinterberg Spoiled Aaron Sorkin’s Oscars Directing Nomination with “Another Round”


There was a virtual gasp last week when Aaron Sorkin wasn’t nominated for Best Director for his work on “The Trial of the Chicago Seven.”

The other four nominees were expected, including Chloe Zhao, David Fincher, Emerald Fennell, and Lee Isaac Chung. Their films were among the best of the year.

But seemingly spoiling Sorkin’s shot– which he deserved– was Danish innovator Thomas Vinterberg, whose “Another Round” is the leading nominee among Best Features Made in a Foreign Language. When Vinterberg’s name, not Sorkin’s, was read, you could literally hear people falling out of bed or off breakfast stools all over the movie biz.

Vinterberg’s movie is distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, not usually an Oscar player. Few people have seen it or know about it. Vinterberg made a splash in 1998 with “The Celebration,” but since then he’s been a favorite of foreign film festivals like Cannes and Venice.

Was there an awards specialist working on “Another Round”? Was the vote a result of many new international Academy members?

I finally got to see “Another Round” this weekend. Vinterberg deserves his nomination regardless of whose slot he took. Frankly, his lead actor, Mads Mikkelsen, as Martin, could have been nommed for Best Actor. The movie is fresh and unique and compelling, the actor is, too.

“Another Round” concerns a group of male school teachers who are disenchanted and bored with their lot in life. They come up with an idea to start drinking, which will make them more enlivened and interesting. Scandinavia is already well known for its alcohol consumption, as one man’s wife points out. But this determination to raise level of intoxication is being done for purer reasons: not to be drunk, but to improve their mid life crises.

Initially, the teachers’ effort is fun, and provides a lot of jokes. But, of course, this is Denmark. There will be a long period of darkness after the light. Martin’s pals will have to face reality at some point. One of them will really have some issues. Martin will almost lose his family. There are also some unusual turns including one in which a nervous student is encouraged to drink so he’ll relax when taking exams. (Can you imagine this in an American movie? Everyone involved would be ‘cancelled.’)

Mads Mikkselsen usually plays villains and heavies in American or British movies. So it’s nice to see him as a fleshed out well rounded leading man who must travel a story arc, change and maybe learn something. Based on this performance, Mikkelsen should find more work in the U.S. with a smart director.

And Vinterberg? He tried making a few movies with American stars. They didn’t really work. Now he’s returned to his people, and language, and made his most successful film. The gamble paid off.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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