Van Morrison has been shortlisted for an Oscar for the opening song of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film Belfast.
The Belfast-born artist contributed nine songs to the soundtrack and has now been shortlisted in the Best Original Song category for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony next year for the original song Down to Joy.
It will go up against U2’s Your Song Saved My Life from Sing 2, Billie Eilish’s No Time To Die from the James Bond film of the same name, and Beyonce’s Be Alive from King Richard, which are all nominated in the same category.
The 76-year-old singer has already been nominated for a Golden Globe for the same song.
Branagh previously said that Morrison has an “uncanny feel” for the city of Belfast, which is reflected in the musical score he composed, with electric piano and saxophone to the fore.
“We met a few times and he read the screenplay and was very interesting about it. He seems to recognise much in it,” Branagh told Screen Daily in October.
“It has a very moody, jazzy quality that is behind the haunting music of memory that he seems to provide.
“And he wrote a new song for the film, which is the song that opens the film, called Down to Joy,” he added.
“I found him an artist to his fingertips. You had to say little to him before already he was running with an idea of his own.”
Morrison isn’t the only Northern Irish musician to feature in the film Belfast.
The film also has a song from Ruby Murray, described by Branagh as “our Doris Day” and as the woman who “subsequently gave her name to the slang for [curry]”.
The film, which tells the coming-of-age story of ‘Buddy during the Troubles’, has been met with critical acclaim all over the world, tipped for numerous awards and nominations.
It has already scooped a People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival back in September and is currently nominated for seven Golden Globes and is tipped for a nomination for the award of Best Picture at next year’s Academy Awards.
Cast members Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds and Caitriona Balfe are also all shortlisted for accolades. Hinds and Dornan play father (Pop) and son (Pa) in the film, partly based on Branagh’s years growing up in Belfast.
Caitriona Balfe, who plays Ma, was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in the Golden Globes. Belfast is a poignant story of love, laughter and loss in one boy’s childhood, amid the social and political tumult of the late 1960s.
Branagh wrote the script during lockdown as a cinematic ode to the city he left behind as a child, when rising sectarian tensions and economic opportunities prompted his parents to relocate to England.
Belfast is already on release in the US and opens in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on January 21, 2022.
Both No Time To Die and Dune led the field in the first round of films shortlisted for the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, with both films shortlisted for four categories after 10 were announced on Tuesday.
The 94th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 27 and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.