50 Best Scandinavian Movies to Watch Now

Updated July 1, 2024 • Staff
The region may be ice cold, but Scandinavia has produced some of the most heated films in recent years. There are heart-racing epics from Denmark (many starring the great Mads Mikkelsen, not that we're complaining), heady romantic dramas from Norway, and bloodcurdling avant-garde films from Sweden. Whether you're interested in learning more about the culture or already have a penchant for it, we're sure you'll find something to add to your "to watch" list in our roundup of the very best Scandinavian movies you can stream right now.
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50.

Italian for Beginners (2000)

With the austere ethos of Dogme 95, most Dogme films tend to be naturalistic, serious dramas, dealing with heavy topics. Italian for Beginners is a Dogme film, but it’s one of the only lighthearted comedies considered to be one. It makes for a more casual, realistic approach to the romantic comedy, as students in an Italian class naturally build up connections through a subtle, dry humor, and consistent attempts to understand each other, as one does in a language class. It’s understated and subtle, but director and writer Lone Scherfig manages to make Italian for Beginners seem all the more charming.

Our staff rating: 7/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Anders W. Berthelsen, Anette Støvelbæk, Ann Eleonora Jørgensen, Ann Eleonora Jørgensen, Bent Mejding, Carlo Barsotti, Claus Gerving, Elsebeth Steentoft, Jesper Christensen, Karen-Lise Mynster, Lars Kaalund, Lene Tiemroth, Martin Brygmann, Peter Gantzler, Rikke Wölck, Sara Indrio Jensen, Steen Svare
Director: Lone Scherfig
49.

We Are the Best! (2013)

We Are the Best! is one movie that may be overlooked largely by viewers, though it perfectly captures counterculture, and relates to the misfit young and old. The movie is an adaptation of Moodysson's wife Coco's graphic novel "Never Goodnight". Set in Stockholm, Sweden in 1982, Klara (Mira Grosin) and her best friend Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) are junior high teenage girls who believe in their heart that punk rock is alive and well. With both of their home lives not so pleasant, the girls spend their time at the local youth center while taking up the time slot in the band room to get revenge on the local metal band. That's when they find themselves starting a punk band without even knowing how to play an instrument. We Are the Best! is a fun and deeply sincere exploration of adventure, friendship, love, and betrayal in adolescence.

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Actor: Ann-Sofie Rase, David Dencik, Emrik Ekholm, Felix Sandman, Johan Liljemark, Lena Carlsson, Liv LeMoyne, Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Peter Eriksson, Sofi Ahlström Helleday
Director: Lukas Moodysson
Rating: Not Rated
48.

Teddy Bear (2012)

This Danish movie is about a failed 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mom and has never left Denmark. In an expected move, and while telling his mom he’s going to Germany, he travels to Thailand in hopes of finding love. It might at first seem like a disastrous storyline (of sex tourism), but that part of the movie is almost accidental. Teddy Bear is actually a sweet and likable story of a man who wants to break away from his domineering mother, and a journey of someone who starts growing up later in life.

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Actor: Chanicha Shindejanichakul, David Winters, Elsebeth Steentoft, Kim Kold, Lamaiporn Hougaard, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, Per Otto Bersang Rasmussen
Director: Mads Matthiesen
Rating: Not Rated
47.

Queen of Hearts (2019)

This Danish film which was the country's submission to the Oscars is about a delicate subject. A lawyer who specializes in defending children, and who is used to developing closeness with her clients including meeting with them in her home, starts having an affair with her teenage step-son. There is inherent tension to this obviously very explicit plotline: how would a serious, non-erotic (or not-only-erotic) movie like this one portray such attraction. And of course, afterwards, what are the implications?

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Carla Philip Røder, Elias Budde Christensen, Ella Solgaard, Frederikke Dahl Hansen, Gustav Lindh, Liv Esmår Dannemann, Mads Knarreborg, Magnus Kreppe, Magnus Krepper, Marie Dalsgaard, Mathias Skov Rahbæk, Nessie Beik, Preben Kristensen, Silja Esmår Dannemann, Stine Gyldenkerne, Trine Dyrholm
Director: May el-Toukhy
46.

Utøya: July 22 (2019)

This movie is different from a Netflix release about the same events. Actually, it's different from any movie you've probably seen before. Depicting the terrorist attack that took 77 lives in 2011 in an island near Oslo, Norway, it's made to make you feel as if you were part of the attack. It's shot to resemble one take, and the time of the movie is the time it took the attack to unfold (so you're witnessing it in real-time). While closely based on the accounts of two survivors, it follows a fictional character called Kaja who looks for her sister during the attacks. Utøya: July 22 pushes the limits of what you can watch in a movie but serves as a terrifying testament to the atrocity of a terrorist attack of such nature.

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Drama, History
Actor: Ada Eide, Aleksander Holmen, Andrea Berntzen, Brede Fristad, Daniel Sang Tran, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osborne, Elli Rhiannon Müller Osbourne, Ingeborg Enes, Jenny Svennevig, Karoline Petronella Ulfsdatter Schau, Mariann Gjerdsbakk, Solveig Koløen Birkeland, Torkel D. Soldal, Yngve Berven
Director: Erik Poppe
Rating: Not Rated
45.

Becoming Astrid (2018)

This Swedish movie is the story of Astrid Lindgren, one of the most translated children book writers of all time. Her work of over 100 books includes Pippi Longstocking and The Brothers Lionheart. Away from the quiet existence of the characters she would later create, Astrid had a turbulent life. Her troubles start when she falls for the editor of the paper she worked at when she was young, a man 30 years her senior. This results in an unwanted pregnancy and Astrid is pushed to immigrate.

Our staff rating: 7.1/10
Genre: Drama, History
Actor: Alba August, Björn Gustafsson, Eric Ericson, Henrik Rafaelsen, Lars Väringer, Magnus Krepper, Maria Alm Norell, Maria Bonnevie, Maria Fahl-Vikander, Sofia Karemyr, Trine Dyrholm
Director: Pernille Fischer Christensen
Rating: 12
44.

A Day and a Half (2023)

With its grounded approach, A Day and a Half feels real, even if the exact events are fictional. Inspired by a couple of lines from a 2008 news article, Fares Fares crafts an intimate family drama for his first directorial debut, built in the bones of a hostage thriller. As a thriller, Fares consistently maintains its suspense, camera eyeing the gun present in most of the film. However, as the cop Lucas tries to defuse the situation with hostage-taker Artan, and the situation escalates to the National Task Force, Artan and Louise confront their broken family, lines opened by improvised hostage negotiations. While Artan’s understandable reasons shouldn’t absolve him of his actions, A Day and a Half effectively builds tension, only relieved at its slightly unrealistic but cathartic ending.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Actor: Alexej Manvelov, Alma Pöysti, Annica Liljeblad, Annika Hallin, Daniel Guldstrand, Fares Fares, Richard Forsgren, Stina Ekblad
Director: Fares Fares
43.

Pelle the Conqueror (1987)

When depicting a novel, book adaptations on film, especially earlier on in the medium, tend to be quite lengthy. The film version of Pelle the Conqueror does have this quality, and the storylines that aren’t directly connected to Pelle and Lasse do feel randomly stitched in. But, when this epic film focuses on Pelle and Lasse– their struggles immigrating to another country, dealing with harassment from the Danish majority, and the rare moments of joy once they finally figure things out– it shines. The legendary Max von Sydow and Pelle Hvenegaard (who was one of the many boys named after the title character) share a tender father-son dynamic that easily stirs one’s heart, and it’s all beautifully captured within Denmark’s lovely countryside. Pelle the Conqueror may only adapt the first of four volumes of the iconic Danish novel, but it does compassionately capture the struggles of the country’s impoverished immigrants.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Drama
Actor: Astrid Villaume, Axel Strøbye, Bjorn Granath, Buster Larsen, Erik Paaske, John Wittig, Kristina Törnqvist, Lars Simonsen, Lena-Pia Bernhardsson, Max von Sydow, Nis Bank-Mikkelsen, Pelle Hvenegaard, Sofie Gråbøl, Thure Lindhardt, Troels Asmussen, Troels Munk
Director: Bille August
42.

Pusher (1996)

Films about drug dealing aren't particularly new, but the way Pusher delves into their lives feels different– more realistic than glamorous, somewhat like a guerrilla documentary, with the handheld camera as a silent, unnamed witness. As the camera follows low-level dealer Frank through the course of a week, Kim Bodnia skillfully garners empathy with the way he holds himself through the pressure, and does the opposite when he does the same wrongs that were done to him. The story itself may be simple, but writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn made his mark through this debut, inadvertently creating a franchise and influencing Danish cinema.

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Actor: Gordon Kennedy, Gyda Hansen, Jesper Lohmann, Kim Bodnia, Lars Bom, Laura Drasbæk, Lisbeth Rasmussen, Liv Corfixen, Mads Mikkelsen, Nicolas Winding Refn, Peter Andersson, Slavko Labović, Thomas Bo Larsen, Vanja Bajicic, Zlatko Burić
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Free Watching Options:

Watch Pusher (1996) on Fubo for free
41.

Force Majeure (2014)

A seemingly well-adjusted Scandinavian Family vacationing in the French Alps experiences a frightening avalanche scare near the beginning of Force Majeure, thereby unleashing a cacophony of mistrust and anxiety as their dynamic is shaken to the core. This pitch black comedy from Sweden charts the steady disintegration of the family unit and the father’s psyche in particular, as his reaction to impending death leaves his family deeply questioning his masculinity and prioritization of their well-being. The stages of blame and negotiation play out with painful honesty, holding back very little in a manner that leaves the viewer supremely uncomfortable, as if eavesdropping on a neighbor's personal affairs. The effect is unsettling yet stunningly honest and often laugh-quietly-on-the-inside worthy in its depiction of human vulnerability. Unlike many narrative films, the “climax” comes at the beginning of Force Majeure, with the remainder of the film acting as an extended denouement in the form of a measured, Kubrickian character study.

Our staff rating: 7.3/10
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Actor: Brady Corbet, Clara Wettergren, Fanni Metelius, Johannes Kuhnke, Karin Myrenberg, Kristofer Hivju, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Vincent Wettergren
Director: Ruben Östlund
Rating: R

Free Watching Options:

Watch Force Majeure (2014) on Hulu for free

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