Maybe it's because Kenneth Branagh's Belfast is a movie that I can more personally identify with rather than some of the other nominees, but this film is one that you can tell the director poured their heart and soul into. You can always tell when you're watching a movie like that, and it's no different in the case of Belfast.
Much of my ancestry comes from Ireland, if you couldn't tell by my name. The film, about a family and a boy named Buddy growing up in Belfast, is framed around the violence of "The Troubles," a period of religious and nationalist strife in Northern Ireland.
By using the city as not just a setting but also as an extended member of the family, Belfast hits all the right notes. It's a city in turmoil, and as Jamie Dornan's character, "Pa," struggles with keeping the family safe, you can see how much this family is in conflict.
Featuring stellar performances from Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Dornan, and Ciarán Hinds, Belfast is a film that everyone can relate to.
The film's central theme of "what exactly does 'home' mean?" permeates throughout, as Pa wants to leave Belfast behind to protect the family, and Ma (Balfe) wants to stay as it's the only place she's ever called home. It's a situation that no one ever wants to find themselves in, and with the events in Ukraine currently unfolding, feels all too prevalent.
Is home where you're from? Or is home wherever you're with those that you love?
Belfast delicately balances this idea and finds a way to make the audience ponder this question and reflect on it themselves.
-Conor Sheeran, Senior Pop Culture Editor