‘Belfast’ seeks to score the elusive supporting double-double at the Oscars

Belfast” is putting all of its eggs in one basket: All four adults in the film —  Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds — will campaign in supporting this awards season, which means “Belfast” could become just the third movie to nab the supporting double-double at the Oscars.

Translation: That is two nominations in each supporting category. The first film to accomplish this was 1957’s “Peyton Place,” which produced two slots in Best Supporting Actor for Arthur Kennedy and Russ Tamblyn, and two in Best Supporting Actress for Hope Lange and Diane Varsi. The second and most recent instance was when 1971’s “The Last Picture Show” — yes, 50 years ago — earned supporting bids for Jeff Bridges, Ben Johnson, Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman. None of the “Peyton Place” stars won — the awards, ironically, went to another duo from one film, “Sayonora’s” Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki — but “The Last Picture Show” had better luck as Johnson and Leachman triumphed.

Now half a century on, “Belfast” is in good position to pull off this rare feat. The Kenneth Branagh film, which is based on his own childhood in the Northern Ireland capital, has been a festival hit, winning the Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, and is currently in third place in the Best Picture odds, behind “The Power of the Dog” and “Nightmare Alley.”

SEE ‘Belfast’ stars Caitriona Balfe and Jamie Dornan to campaign in supporting Oscar races

Written and directed by Branagh, “Belfast” centers on Buddy, a young boy played by Jude Hill, who will be the film’s sole lead campaign. Balfe and Dornan play his parents; Dench and Hinds, his grandparents. While the latter two were always known to be supporting, Balfe’s and Dornan’s placements were murky until now. Balfe, in particular, has been cited as a standout and a supporting actress favorite if she were to run there as opposed to the crowded Best Actress field with unmistakable leads.

Since the confirmation, as of this writing, the “Outlander” star has risen to eighth place in the supporting actress odds, where Dench sits in fifth behind Ann Dowd (“Mass”), Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”). Dornan has surged to ninth place in supporting actor, one spot behind Hinds. The top five currently consists of Richard Jenkins (“The Humans”), Bradley Cooper (“Licorice Pizza”), Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”), Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”) and Corey Hawkins (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”).

Multiple nominees from one film are common in the supporting categories, especially in supporting actress, where there have been 35 instances, most recently with 2018’s “The Favourite” fielding Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. In supporting actor, there have been 20 cases, but there was a 26-year drought between 1991’s “Bugsy” and 2017’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” But since then, double nominees have happened more often than not as “The Irishman” (2019) garnered bids for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and just this year, Daniel Kaluuya beat his “Judas and the Black Messiah” co-star Lakeith Stanfield, who shockingly was nominated in supporting after being campaigned in lead. Maybe this is all a buildup to a long overdue double-double.

Oscar odds for Best Supporting Actress
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