Oscar 2021: Iceland Picks Noomi Rapace’s Horror Lamb for International Feature Category

In Lamb, Valdimar Jóhannsson’s debut feature, Rapace and Hilmir Snær Gudnason play a childless farming couple who make an alarming discovery one day in their sheep barn.


Iceland has picked Lamb, a folkloric horror film starring Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), to represent the country in the 2022 best international feature Oscar category.

The film, from first-time director Valdimar Johannsson, premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes this year, where it won special prize for originality.

Lamb also screened at Spain’s acclaimed Sitges fantasy film festival, top prize for best feature as well as the best actress honor for Rapace.

Lamb combines Nordic folk legend with horror elements in its story of a childless farming couple (Rapace and Icelandic actor Hilmir Snær Gudnason) who, during lambing season, make a startling discovery in their sheep barn — a discovery that will tear their world apart. A24 picked up North American rights for the film and bowed Lamb on limited release earlier this month.

Genre films, particularly international ones, can have a tough time at the Oscars, but there is precedent for folk-flavored Nordic horror winning over the Academy.

In 2019, the Swedish drama Border, about mythical trolls living in modern-day Scandinavia, picked up an Oscar nomination for best hair and makeup.

Iceland at the Oscars

Iceland has only once been nominated for an Oscar: for Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s Children of Nature in 1991. The nation has yet to win an Oscar Award.

The shortlist for the 2022 Oscars will be unveiled on Dec. 21. Nominations will be announced on Feb. 8. The 94th Academy Awards will be held on March 27, 2022.