Since the establishment of the supporting acting Oscar categories in 1937, there have been a whopping 139 films to reap bids for multiple featured players. There has been at least one of these double hitters every year since 1998, with the most recent being “Judas and the Black Messiah” when Daniel Kaluuya bested, among others his castmate LaKeith Stanfield and claimed the Supporting Actor award.
But there have only been two films that have earned a pair of nominations for both Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Could “Belfast” be the third? Writer-director Kenneth Branagh tells the story of how The Troubles in 1960s Northern Ireland impacted his childhood, using 11-year-old newcomer Jude Hill as his representative, Buddy. Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan, who play Buddy’s parents, and Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds, who appear as his grandparents, are all vying for spots in the next supporting Oscar lineups.
In 1958, “Peyton Place” became the first film to earn two bids in each supporting category. Freshman nominee Russ Tamblyn faced castmate Arthur Kennedy on his third of four tries for the featured male prize, while first-timers Hope Lange and Diane Varsi went head to head on the female side. Ultimately, the races were won by “Sayonara” performers Red Buttons and Miyoshi Umeki. “Peyton Place” lead Lana Turner also lost her bid to Joanne Woodward (“The Three Faces of Eve”), making this film the first of only two to end up with five unsuccessful acting nominations; the other was “Tom Jones” (one lead actor, three supporting actress, one supporting actor).
In 1972, “The Last Picture Show” followed “Peyton Place” as the second film to take up two male and two female supporting slots. Unlike its predecessor, it won both awards, as Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman respectively triumphed over their co-stars Jeff Bridges and Ellen Burstyn. The film also made history as the first (and, to date, only) one to receive four supporting nominations and no lead ones. In the half century since, only two films have come close to matching this accomplishment with three supporting and no lead bids each: “Bullets Over Broadway” (1995) and “The Fighter” (2011).
Balfe, Dornan, and Hinds’s potential Oscar bids would be the first for each, and, at 68, Hinds would fall within the top 4% of all-time oldest first-time male acting nominees. This would be Dench’s eighth career bid following a supporting victory for “Shakespeare in Love” (1999), another for “Chocolat” (2001), and five lead ones for “Mrs. Brown” (1998), “Iris” (2002), “Mrs. Henderson Presents” (2006), “Notes on a Scandal” (2007), and “Philomena” (2014). At 87, she would be the third oldest acting nominee in Oscars history, ranking 160 days behind Gloria Stuart (“Titanic,” 1998) and 345 days behind Christopher Plummer (“All the Money in the World,” 2018).
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