Actors’ Spotlight #70: Kenneth Branagh

Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh (born 10 December 1960) is a Northern Irish actor, director, producer, and screenwriter originally from Belfast. Branagh trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London, and in 2015 succeeded Richard Attenborough as its President. He has directed or starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays, including Henry V (1989) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Director), Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Othello (1995), Hamlet (1996) (for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), and As You Like It (2006).

Branagh has also starred in numerous other films and television series including Fortunes of War (1987), Woody Allen’s Celebrity (1998), Wild Wild West (1999), The Road to El Dorado (2000), Conspiracy (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Warm Springs (2005), Valkyrie (2008), The Boat That Rocked (2009), Wallander (2008–present), and My Week with Marilyn (2011) as Sir Laurence Olivier (Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor). He has directed such notable films as Dead Again (1991), in which he also starred, Swan Song (1992) (Academy Award nominated for Best Live Action Short Film), Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) in which he also starred, The Magic Flute (2006), Sleuth (2007), the blockbuster superhero film Thor (2011), the action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) in which he also co-stars, and Cinderella (2015).

He also narrated the BBC documentary miniseries’ Walking with Dinosaurs (starred in 1999) (as well as The Ballad of Big Al), Walking with Beasts (2001) and Walking with Monsters (2005). Branagh has been nominated for five Academy Awards, five Golden Globes, and has won three BAFTAs, and an Emmy. He was appointed a knight bachelor in the 2012 Birthday Honours and was knighted on 9 November 2012.

Kenneth Branagh is one of the most prolific Hollywood personalties working today as not just an actor but producer, writer, and director all the way back to early in his career. And somebody with a resume like his has had his fair share of good movies as well as bad movies too.

Let’s begin by taking a look at Kenneth Branagh at his worst:

5. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Francis Ford Coppola essentially trying to do what the same thing he did with Dracula two years prior except it’s Kenneth Branagh producing and Coppola presenting and it just doesn’t work Branagh directs and stars and Robert De Niro as the monster is a waste in this.

4. How To Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog

Just kind of a generic comedy that is trying to be to much like the Blake Edwards comedies of the 60s and 70s.

3. Five Children & It

A bizarrely stupid kids movie with a young Freddie Highmore pre Finding Neverland and Branagh in one of the few kids films he was in.

2. Celebrity

One of Woody Allen’s biggest misfires as a director.

and the #1 worst Kenneth Branagh movie is…

Wild Wild West

A movie so bad that Will Smith had to apologize to the people behind the original TV series, that’s how bad it was. And you can’t really blame Will Smith or even Barry Sonnenfeld on this one, the blame is clearly on Jon Peters who had no intention to make an adaptation of this and only wanted to make this movie so the heroes can face off a giant mechanical spider…in the old west…in the goddamn 1870s….this movie fucking sucks.

Those are the worst, now let’s take a look of Branagh at his best:

5. Harry Potter & The Chamber Of Secrets

Playing Gilderoy Lockhart, this Harry Potter movie was a very good follow-up to the first movie.

4. Valkyrie

An underrated historical film with Tom Cruise and directed by Bryan Singer.

3. The Road To El Dorado

An underrated animated feature from DreamWorks Animation with Branagh starring alongside Kevin Kline is a beautifully animated very hilarious comedy.

2. Henry V

Branagh’s directorial debut featuring an impressive all-star cast including Paul Scofield, Derek Jacobi, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, Alec McCowen, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Brian Blessed, and Christian Bale in one of the best Shakespearean film adaptations ever.

and the #1 best Kenneth Branagh movie is…

Hamlet

Another Branagh Shakespearean film adaptation with a gigantic all-star cast, Derek Jacobi as King Claudius, Julie Christie as Queen Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Michael Maloney as Laertes, Richard Briers as Polonius, and Nicholas Farrell as Horatio. Other notable appearances include Robin Williams, Gérard Depardieu, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal, Rufus Sewell, Charlton Heston, Richard Attenborough, Judi Dench, John Gielgud and Ken Dodd.

Excellent movie, one hell of a long one, but still an excellent movie.

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