If it's November, then it's time for the first wave of significant contenders for the Academy Awards to hit theaters. As has been standard for the past few years, these films include several U.K. artists, including odd biopics like The Electrical Life of Louis Wain with perennial hopeful Benedict Cumberbatch and the surrealist take on the late Princess Diana in Spencer. But of all the hopefuls coming to theaters (and then following on streaming), it's Kenneth Branagh's Belfast that has the most momentum behind it.
The black and white film is one of Branagh's most personal to date, a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story chronicling the life of a working-class family during the late 1960s edition of the Troubles. The five-time Oscar nominee was already knighted in 2012, but he has been honored by his home country in recent years, named one of Ireland's greatest film actors of all time. His film has followed the traditional Awards seasons role out, opening at the Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival back in September. It has already landed 11 nominations at this year's British Independent Film Awards.
The movie will open nationwide in both the U.S and the U.K. this Friday, Nov. 12, and had its red carpet premiere this week. Check out the trailer and the all-star cast that Branagh has rounded up.
The film's logline is as follows.
Belfast is a poignant story of love, laughter, and loss in one boy's childhood, amid the music and social tumult of the late 1960s.
The film stars newcomer 10-year-old Jude Hill as the fictionalized version of Branagh as a child, known as Buddy. The rest of the cast is a bit of a who's who, with Caitríona Balfe (Outlander) as Ma, Jamie Dornan (The Fall) as Pa, Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) as Granny, and Ciarán Hinds (Kin) as Pop. The film also co-stars Colin Morgan (Merlin), Lara McDonnell (Walk Invisible: The Brontë Sisters), Gerard Horan (Lark Rise to Candleford), Conor MacNeill (101 Dalmatian Street), Turlough Convery (Sanditon), Gerard McCarthy (Call The Midwife), Victor Alli (Grantchester), Josie Walker (Vera), and newcomers Lewis McAskie and Olive Tennant.
When the film's release was first announced for this fall, Branagh said in a statement, "Belfast is my most personal film. It's about coming home – a dramatic journey of excitement, emotion, and humour. To be embraced by filmmakers and distributors of such proven imagination and talent as Focus is fantastic. We are honoured to partner with Peter Kujawski and his amazing team. With the incredible support of Northern Ireland Screen also in the mix, we are very excited for the future of Belfast in cinemas around the world in 2021."
Belfast opens exclusively in theaters Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Focus Features has not set a date or platform for streaming yet, but its ongoing deal with HBO Max makes it a likely bet for early 2022, in time for viewers to watch at home before the Academy Awards in February.