An adaptation of Swedish author Fredrik Backman's New York Times best-seller, the film stars Rolf Lassgård as a stereotypical Saab-driving, cranky curmudgeon who has his heart unexpectedly opened by a warm new neighbour.
“I have an underdog personality so I chose to lie very low. I was really happy when I found out,” director Holm said at a press conference after the nomination for his film was revealed.
In a press release accompanying the announcement, Sweden’s national film body called the movie “one of the biggest Swedish cinema successes ever”, citing over 1.7 million admissions to see it domestically.
Released in December 2015, by March 2016 A Man Called Ove had already reached third place on the list of most-watched films at Swedish cinemas since records began in 1963.
Despite its major domestic success, claiming an Oscar will be a tough task. A Swedish film has not won in the Best Foreign Language Film category since Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander took the Oscar back in 1983.
Swedish cinema icon Bergman was also behind the country’s only other previous wins in the category, with The Virgin Spring coming out on top in 1960, and Through a Glass Darkly winning in 1961.
A more positive omen can be found in Sweden's more recent success in other categories however. Last year Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Danish Girl – the first Swedish performer to win an Academy Award since Ingrid Bergman in 1974.
The Academy Awards jury will announce the final five-film shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film prize on January 24th, before the gala itself is held on February 26th.