Director Erik Poppe’s film about King Haakon VII’s resistance to the Nazi invasion of Norway had survived the cut from 85 submissions to nine but was not among the five finalists revealed on Tuesday.
Adding insult to injury, Norway's two Scandinavian neighbours Denmark and Sweden are among the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film with ‘Land of Mine' and ‘A Man Called Ove’, respectively. The other films that will vie for the award at the Oscars gala in Los Angeles next month are 'The Salesman' (Iran), 'Tanna' (Australia) and 'Toni Erdmann' (Germany).
‘Kongens nei’ was hoping to be just the sixth Norwegian nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film. The previous nominees were ‘Ni liv’ in 1957, ‘Veiviseren’ in 1987, ‘Søndagsengler’ in 1996, ‘Elling’ in 2001 and ‘Kon-Tiki’ in 2012. None of those managed to take home the Oscar, so there were high hopes that ‘Kongens nei’ could make Norwegian film history and end the country's Oscar drought.
Instead, the best Norwegian film buffs can now hope for is that one of their neighbours claims the prize. The Danish entry ‘Land of Mine’ (Original title: Under Sanden) is about a group of German POWs who are made to clear Danish beaches of Nazi mines following the war. Swedish hopeful 'A Man Called Ove' (original title: En man som heter Ove) meanwhile tells the story of a Saab-driving curmudgeon who has his heart opened by a warm new neighbour.
The German entry ‘Toni Erdmann’ is also a clear favourite, with the comedy winning best film, director, actress, actor and screenwriter at the European Film Awards earlier this month.
Some 720,000 Norwegians saw 'Kongens Nei' in theatres, making the war drama the biggest box office draw in what was the Norwegian film industry's best year in more than four decades.