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

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

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.”

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.

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