Oscars 2022: Kenneth Branagh Just Became an Oscar Pioneer

Oscar fans are gearing up for the 2022 Academy Awards. And regardless of what happens on Oscar night, the results are bound to turn heads. Just the nominations have already made history. With such heavyweights as Steven Spielberg, Will Smith, and Nicole Kidman all up for Oscars this year, the ceremony feels like a must-watch. But the most surprising development is how Kenneth Branagh has become something of a pioneer at the 2022 Oscars.

Kenneth Branagh poses in a suit and glasses
Kenneth Branagh | Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Deadline

Kenneth Branagh received his first Oscar nod in 1990

For decades, Branagh has been a multi-talented force in the entertainment world. To casual moviegoers, he might be best known as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or perhaps as the director of 2011’s Thor. Even now, Branagh stars in and directs a new franchise based on Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novels. His take on Christie’s iconic detective, Hercule Poirot, debuted in 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express.

But Branagh’s career really centered on the works of William Shakespeare. In fact, he earned his very first Academy Award nominations for his 1989 film based on Shakespeare’s Henry V. For that project, Branagh was nominated for Best Actor and Best Director. He lost those awards to Daniel Day-Lewis for My Left Foot and Oliver Stone for Born on the Fourth of July, respectively. But Oscar hadn’t seen the last of Branagh.

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The multi-talented star is up for 3 Oscars this year

Branagh returned in the 1990s with nominations for Best Live Action Short Film for Swan Song and Best Adapted Screenplay for his 1996 film adaptation of Hamlet. And in 2012, he received a Best Supporting Actor nod for My Week with Marilyn. Now a decade later, Branagh received three nominations for Belfast. At the 94th Academy Awards, he’ll compete for Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture for his movie, Belfast.

That accomplishment alone is impressive. However, it also makes Branagh the first person to ever be Oscar-nominated in seven different categories. Normally, an actor or filmmaker is limited to one or two potential awards. But Branagh’s versatility in Hollywood has put him ahead of his peers. This milestone places Branagh ahead of Walt Disney, Alfonso Cuarón, and George, all of whom have been nominated in six different Academy Award categories.

Kenneth Branagh has the best shot of winning this award

Despite all his nominations, Branagh has yet to win an Academy Award. But his three nods for Belfast perhaps might finally change that. At the moment, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog leads the Best Picture and Best Director races. According to Gold Derby, Belfast is currently the runner-up for Best Picture. However, a Branagh win in Best Director looks unlikely.

Instead, Branagh’s best chance at winning an Oscar is likely in Best Original Screenplay. At the moment, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza has a narrow lead. But the fact that Branagh based Belfast in part on his own childhood might win over the academy. While Anderson also has yet to win an Oscar, this is likely the best chance the Oscars have to pay off its longtime support of Branagh.

The 94th Academy Awards air on ABC on March 27, 2022.

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