Nominated in both the International Feature Oscar and the Best Director Oscar categories, Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round is a life-affirming film that uses an experimentation with alcohol as a means to propel the drama. Throughout, there are elements of tragedy and comedy in a story Vinterberg has called an “untamable beast.” It’s all capped off by a show-stopping sequence that’s hopeful, joyous and also somewhat open-ended. The team approached it with careful consideration, as Vinterberg and Mikkelsen told us during Deadline’s Contenders Film: The Nominees all-day event.
Mikkelsen, who dusted off his dance shoes for that scene, says it was subject to much discussion and some hesitation. He told me, “Let’s put it this way, I was a little nervous that it might come across as pretentious, or that we would miss the target somehow.” Vinterberg, said Mikkelsen, was “a little more convinced than I was and I got more and more convinced the more I realized the film was an embracement of life in general, and then when I saw all the youngsters on the day intoxicated by life, everything just made sense.”
Despite still carrying some “anxiousness,” Mikkelsen was further buoyed when he “looked at the monitor tent and Thomas’ wife was sitting there and she was just beaming and beaming for every take she was watching. I’m really pleased watching it, it’s a scene where we wanted a man to fly and fall at the same time and I think we achieved it.”
Vinterberg told me, “We were somewhat nervous about making this, but it seems like people enjoy it, so there’s a sense of self-confidence arising with that scene which wasn’t there when we shot it. It was very courageous of Mads, jumping into this, because we were all nervous that this could become private or just silly and weird, and Mads doing it so full-heartedly and giving it everything he had was very, very courageous.”
He continued, “Sometimes you have a feeling when you do something that feels crazy, or even suicidal, and that’s where you should actually step into it, just do it. I have had that sensation a couple times in my career where things felt just a little bit too much, and then just doing it anyway creates a great feeling of being alive.”
Vinterberg, who is back in the Oscar race after his 2012 film The Hunt (also starring Mikkelsen) was nominated in what was then the Foreign Language category, also reteamed with frequent co-screenwriter Tobias Lindholm on Another Round. Both men are nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the BAFTAs along with Another Round’s three further noms for Best Film, Best Director and Lead Actor. The movie has won myriad prizes from awards bodies and critics groups and was the top box office draw in Denmark in 2020.
For Lindholm (whose third feature as director, 2015’s A War, was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Oscar), Another Round has a “magic” to it which is “just telling a story that admits that it’s hard to live a life. We live in a very privileged part of the world and Denmark is supposedly the happiest people who live in a very safe environment; nevertheless, it’s really hard to live a life. You get up in the morning and you struggle to be the best you can and in these times with social media and Instagram and all these kinds of performances where you need to take the best version of yourself out in the world, it becomes increasingly harder to live. This movie kind of admits it’s hard to live a life and once in a while, you need help to defrost, to reinvent yourself, to turn back to life.”
Lindholm calls the alcohol theory — first coined by Norwegian psychiatrist Finn Skårderud — “the little engine” and Vinterberg’s “genius way” to explore alcohol “because as soon as that was there, that was an experiment that we could do but also relate to.” He added, “I have to admit that when I’ve had a half a glass or a full glass of wine, I become slightly a better father, and probably a better listener than I am without the alcohol. So, I related to the idea right away and for me that was key. It’s a very human movie.”
It’s also “the most Danish film we’ve done,” Vinterberg allowed, and yet, “suddenly, we have the attention from the whole world.” He opined, “It’s interesting to see how specificity grows wider than when you make something general — it seems it’s awakening people’s interest if you’re very specific about it.” But, he mused, “I’m sure there’s a couple of things that we have in common with the rest of the world, such as being interested in alcohol and drinking and in being interested in getting better lives and being inspired.”
Check out the panel conversation in the video above.