Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast” will be led by young Jude Hill on his way to the Academy Awards, along with Castrina Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds and Judy Dench. Diversity Exclusively learned that Focus Features will promote Hill for consideration as the lead actor during the awards season, the rest of the cast will go for supporting recognition.
Balfe and Dornan’s category submissions have been a question mark since the film’s debut on Telluride, drawing a line between the main and supporting characters. Balfe, in many ways, actors have more accessible and resonant roles. In addition to giving a nicely arranged and charged turn, it can easily be packaged with all the “Oscar clip” bells and whistles you see among the award-winning contestants. Her star is now rising year after year, has already appeared in Best Picture Nominee “Ford vs Ferrari” (2019) and has gained a wide following as Claire Randall in Sturge’s hit television show series “Outlander” and will return in 2022.
The studio would like to see her co-star Dench fall in love with her and look like a grandmother stealing scenes. She was an Academy Favorite with seven career names, including a co-star win for her role as Queen Elizabeth in the Best Picture winner “Shakespeare in Love” (1998). Dench will be 87 years old at the time of the February nomination announcement, and if nominated, she will be nominated for the second oldest supporting actress in history, surpassing Ruby D (“American Gangster”) and Gloria Stewart (“Titanic”)). Unfortunately, Dench will miss the record in 161 days.
Supporting Actress is a category that usually welcomes two actresses from the same film. In the last 93 years, 35 actresses have nominated two or more women in the lineup, 12 of whom have won gold, most recently for Octavia Spencer’s “The Help” (2011).
Born in Belfast, Ireland, where the story took place, Hinds was a versatile actor for many years, taking memorable turns in Oscar-nominated films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” and Steven Spielberg’s “Munich”. As pop, a role given to recent Best Actor winner Anthony Hopkins, and Hinds seems to have finally reached his Oscar dance. It may reflect a winning strategy for past respected character actors like Jim Broadbent when he won for “Iris” (2001), coincidentally starring Judy Dench.
Irish actor Dornan, who also grew up in the suburbs of Belfast, is great as a foot, finding a person’s frustration and sincere push and trying to help his family immediately. Dornan has been playing a number of exciting roles over the past few years in “Barb and Star Go to Vista del Mar”, including his passionate tree-climbing instrument. As a foot, he finds the frustration and sincere beating of a person who is desperately trying to support his family. Compared to the supporting actress, two men from the same film had trouble getting recognition with only 20 instances in the Academy Archives. However, three of these have occurred in the last four years (“three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Irishman” and “Judas and the Black Messiah”). While there are a few films hoping for a double dive (e.g., “The French Dispatch,” “The Power of the Dog” and “Mass”), “Belfast” seems to be the strongest candidate at the moment, in the film’s first-line status.
Playing the role of wide-eyed and adorable friend, Hill’s professional and effortless work hits the heart of the film in many ways. When nominated for his role as Buddy, Hill, at the age of 11, will become the second youngest actor nominated after Jackie Cooper, who was recognized for Norman Taurog’s classic comedy “Skippy” (1930-31) at the fourth Oscar ceremony. It should be noted, Cooper is the only child to be nominated for Best Actor and this year is extremely competitive for the main men.
Submission is one thing that comes with all the prize promotions, but the award agencies vote for them is another. With the exception of the SAG Award, each important award group has the autonomy to select an actor in any category. So we saw switchers like Kate Winslet in “The Reader” (200), which she still led after winning support on all television award shows. Last year, we saw it almost in “Judas and the Black Messiah” with Daniel Calua, which is explained by Lecith Stanfield’s relationship.
“Belfast” is heading to the Mill Valley and Middleburg Film Festival, where writer and director Branagh will be honored and respected. Looking for Oscar recognition in writing and directing, he has received five nominations in his career, in various categories (director, actor, adaptive screenplay, supporting actor and live action short), perhaps one more.
“Belfast” will open in theaters on November 12.