How Oscar nominee ‘Belfast’ explores Kenneth Branagh’s childhood

The main characters in Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast" sit in a movie theater.
Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Jude Hill and Lewis McAskie in “Belfast.”
(Rob Youngson / Focus Features)

Described in Times critic Justin Chang’s review as “Kenneth Branagh’s wobbly crowd-pleaser about his tumultuous early years in Northern Ireland,” “Belfast” earned seven Oscar nominations including best picture, directing, original song, original screenplay, sound and nods in the supporting actor categories for Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench. All of this despite its title.

Still, “Outlander” star Caitríona Balfe somehow missed out on a nomination for her standout performance, while “Fifty Shades of Grey” actor Jamie Dornan had also earned attention for his work (and the way he belts out “Everlasting Love”).

The movie has had a bit of a bumpy journey to Oscars, winning the audience award at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival after it had world-premiered at the Telluride Film Festival, but then finding a modest reception at the domestic box office and failing to pick up any major best picture precursor prizes.

Nevertheless, it does bring a welcome new perspective on the Troubles to the screen.