For his work on the semi-autobiographical film Belfast, Sir Kenneth Branagh was nominated today in three Academy Award categories, and in addition to another Best Director nod, two of those categories — Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay — were for the first time. With that, Branagh has broken the Oscar record, racking up nominations in seven different categories throughout his stellar career.
The previous record of nominations in six separate categories was shared by George Clooney and Walt Disney. Clooney is from a similar mold as Branagh: an accomplished actor and director who sometimes writes his own scripts. Disney’s path would be harder to replicate, since some of his nods came as a producer in animation short categories that no longer exist.
Branagh earned his first nominations for Best Director and Best Actor with the Shakespeare adaptation Henry V in 1989. In 1992 he adapted the Russian playwright Chekov for Swan Song, which netted him a nod for Best Live Action Short Film. 1996’s Hamlet got him into the race for Best Adapted Screenplay, and in 2011 he went back on the trophy hunt for Best Supporting Actor in My Week with Marilyn. Today’s announcement bring his total up to eight nominations across seven categories. He’s never won.
Belfast is a coming-of-age story set against the Protestant-Catholic conflicts of The Troubles in Belfast, Northern Island. The film will compete in Best Picture against CODA (which today netted Troy Kotsur the first nomination for a deaf actor), The Power of the Dog, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, and West Side Story.
As for the Best Director trophy, Branagh faces stiff competition: Jane Campion became the first woman nominated twice in the category for The Power of the Dog; Steven Spielberg became the first director nominated across six decades for West Side Story; Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car earned a record number of nominations for a Japanese film; and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza is a standout movie from one of the most acclaimed directors of his generation.
When it comes to the Best Original Screenplay category, Branagh is up against Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, and The Worst Person in the World. If you use total film nominations as a stand-in for overall Academy affection, Branagh’s best chance to win his first Oscar may come in this category, though of course, he could also win multiple times.
Belfast also received Oscar nods for Actor in a Supporting role (Ciaran Hinds), Actress in a Supporting Role (Judi Dench), Sound, and Original Song (“Down to Joy”). Revisit our full roundup of the nominees here, and be sure to check out the year’s biggest snubs and surprises. The Academy Awards will be held on March 27th.
Up next for Branagh, his Agatha Christie adaptation Death on the Nile arrives this Friday, February 11th. If you’d like, you can read our review.