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Oscar Watch: Magnolia Juggles Mads Mikkelsen's 'Royal Affair,' 'The Hunt'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 2, 2012 at 1:42PM

It's a Mads Mads Mads world. In May at Cannes, Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor for his stunning performance as an ostracized, falsely accused pederast in Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt," which was swiftly acquired by Magnolia Pictures. That distributor has been specializing in Scandinavian fare of late, turning "Headhunters" into a smarthouse hit.
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Mads Mikkelsen
Mads Mikkelsen

It's a Mads Mads Mads world. In May at Cannes, Mads Mikkelsen won Best Actor for his stunning performance as an ostracized, falsely accused pederast in Thomas Vinterberg's "The Hunt," which was swiftly acquired by Magnolia Pictures. That distributor has been specializing in Scandinavian fare of late, turning "Headhunters" into an arthouse hit. (TOH talked to Mikkelsen at Cannes.)

And with "The Hunt" hitting the Toronto Film Festival, you'd think that Magnolia might go after an awards campaign for Mikkelsen. Not so fast. The distributor also acquired out of its sensational debut in Berlin "A Royal Affair," an 18th century true royal love triangle which stars Mikkelsen as a doctor conducting a secret affair with his Queen, which will open in November after its Toronto North American premiere.

"It's as interesting a portrait of late 18th-century life as 'Amadeus' or 'The Madness of King George,'" wrote The Observer. "An absorbing and intelligent mixture of history lesson and forbidden romance," wrote The Daily Express.

This could well be in contention for Denmark's Oscar submission, along with Susanne Bier's latest, "Love Is All You Need," which Sony Pictures Classics is handling. She won the foreign language Oscar for their "In a Better World," which could actually count against another nomination; she also helped make Mikkelsen a star with "Open Hearts" and "After the Wedding."

"A Royal Affair"
"A Royal Affair"

So what about "The Hunt"?  Well, Denmark is looking at a strong lineup for 2012. So the Danes are holding Vinterberg's film for 2013, which means it won't be eligible until next year.  And that's when Magnolia will open it stateside. So Mikkelsen isn't going to be eligible for that fabulous performance until next year.

Which leaves period drama "A Royal Affair." It won the Silver Bear in Berlin; Mikkel Boe Følsgaard won Best Actor as a crazy King, and Rasmus Heisterberg and director Nikolaj Arcel shared Best Screenplay.  It depends on how the film is received, for starters, by North American festival critics and audiences. But as a rule, cost-conscious Magnolia, well aware of the expense of running an Oscar campaign, with no guaranteed payoff for foreign fare (see "In A Better World," "The Artist"), doesn't tend to chase awards. They qualified last year's "Melancholia" just in case, but Lars von Trier's behavior in Cannes ditched its Oscar chances, even for Cannes Best Actress winner Kirsten Dunst. This time they may just have to enter the Oscar hunt.

This article is related to: A Royal Affair, Mads Mikkelsen, Academy Awards, Awards, Awards, Oscars, Magnolia, Magnolia Pictures


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.