Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

Now that the nominations for 94th Academy Awards are out, I’m moving to the next phase of speculation. Welcome to my “Case Of” posts where I dive deeper into the contenders for Best Picture, Director, and the four acting categories.

Here’s how it works. Over the next few weeks before the March 27th ceremony airs, I’m doing individualized entries for the 35 hopefuls in the aforementioned races. With each one, I’ll make the best case for the movie or person winning as well as the case against them and a final verdict as I see it now.

It starts with the 10 BP nominees (alphabetically) before switching up between Director, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. We begin with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast:

The Case for Belfast

For several weeks after its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, the Irish set coming of age tale and passion project from Branagh appeared to be out front in the BP derby. If Academy voters go with the feel good pic of the ten contenders, this could certainly come out on top (though it’s got competition with CODA and King Richard). Belfast had a decent showing on Tuesday morning with 7 nominations including key races like Director, Original Screenplay, and two supporting mentions for Judi Dench (surprisingly making the cut over costar Caitriona Balfe) and Ciaran Hinds.

The Case Against Belfast

The early buzz has waned a bit and much of that is due to The Power of the Dog. The Netflix drama amassed a better than expected 12 nods and is rightfully being called the frontrunner. Power has already shown early precursor love by winning Best Drama at the Golden Globes. And then there’s the categories where Belfast missed – Editing, Cinematography, and Production Design. This indicates that several Academy branches weren’t bowled over by it. Editing, in particular, is a major miss. It’s extremely rare for a BP winner not to make the final five for that one.

The Verdict

There’s certainly a path for Belfast to take the top prize and it likely sits at #2 behind Dog. However, I would say Dog is a heavy favorite and it might be hard for anything to overcome it.

My Case Of posts will continue with CODA

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