Kenneth Branagh just turned one of his eight career Oscar nominations into a win, stepping up on Sunday to receive the original screenplay award for Belfast.
“It’s a huge honor for my family and a great tribute to an incredible city and fantastic people,” Branagh said of his most personal film to date. “It’s the search for joy and hope in the face of violence and loss.”
The black and white memoir is close to his own experience growing up during the Troubles in 1969 in Northern Ireland. He’s been an Oscar favorite since his Telluride debut last fall. Eclectic Branagh – the distinguished stage actor and mainstay of Shakespeare currently on screens as Hercule Poirot in Death on the Nile — is the only person to have been nominated in seven categories. He does not appear in the film but directed, wrote and produced it, earning him names for all. The film broke a record at the Oscars today with its seven nominations in total.
The film is the story of 9-year-old Buddy, told through his perspective as the world suddenly turns violent and his close-knit family – parents, grandparents, brother – face tough decisions. It was shot during the pandemic and is a hymn to the importance of family in dangerous times (echoes the war in Ukraine ravaging cities as the Oscars vote took place).
‘Belfast’: Read the script of Kenneth Branagh’s look at growing up in Northern Ireland
Branagh won in what was considered a contest primarily with Paul Thomas Anderson’s original screenplay for Licorice pizza.
Belfast, by Focus Features, was directed by Branagh, produced by Laura Berwick, Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, and published by Focus Features. It also had nominations tonight for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Sound, and Best Original Song.
Check out his speech above and his behind-the-scenes comments below.