A rogue cop, a cinephile priest, an amoral yuppie, a transvestite butler and a disturbed sleepwalker — this year’s most IFTA-nominated films offer a wide and colorful panorama of Irish life.
“The Guard,” starring Brendan Gleeson as a policeman on the trail of drug smugglers, leads the noms with 10, including a Rising Star nod for writer-director John Michael McDonagh.
Thaddeus O’Sullivan’s “Stella Days,” starring Martin Sheen as a rural priest in the 1950s trying to open a cinema, and “Albert Nobbs,” featuring Glenn Close passing herself off as a man in 19th-century Dublin, follow with nine nods apiece.
Terry McMahon’s “Charlie Casanova,” about a rich sociopath who decides his fate with playing cards, has five noms, including a Rising Star nod for lead actor Emmett J. Scanlan.
Rebecca Daly’s “The Other Side of Sleep,” a psycho-drama about a somnambulist who might have committed a murder, which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, weighs in with four noms, including another Rising Star nod for Daly.
The IFTAs are reserved for Irish talent working in films of any nationality. So the lead actor race pits Gleeson and Sheen (who carries an Irish passport courtesy of his mother) against Michael Fassbender (Irish mother, raised in Ireland) for “Shame” and Ciaran Hinds for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
The nomination of Hinds as lead actor for what was clearly a supporting role is one of those baffling eccentricities that typifies IFTA’s arcane selection system. Hinds is also nominated in the supporting category for “The Debt,” against Gleeson again for “Albert Nobbs,” Liam Cunningham for “The Guard” and Chris O’Dowd for “Bridesmaids.”
O’Dowd has two more noms, as Rising Star and as TV actor for “The Crimson and the White Petal.”
Saoirse Ronan gets a lead film actress nod for “Hanna,” alongside Aoife Duffin for “Behold the Lamb,” Antonia Campbell Hughes for “The Other Side of Sleep” and Marcella Plunkett for “Stella Days.”
The supporting actress race includes Amy Huberman for “Stella Days,” Maria Doyle Kennedy and Brenda Fricker for “Albert Nobbs” plus Fionnula Flanagan for “The Guard.” She will also receive the IFTA Liftetime Achievement Award.
Neither of the two Oscar-nommed actresses from “Albert Nobbs,” Glenn Close and Janet McTeer, are Irish, and so are excluded from the local races. But Close shares a script nomination with her Irish co-writer John Banville, and pops up among the nominees for international actress, alongside Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady,” Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and Kirsten Wiig for “Bridesmaids.”
“Bridesmaids” was the year’s biggest hit in Ireland, doubtless helped by the presence of O’Dowd, and is nommed for best international film, alongside “Drive,” “Senna” and “Tinker Tailor.”
The international actor award is contested by Don Cheadle for “The Guard,” Leonardo DiCaprio for “J. Edgar,” Ryan Gosling for “Drive” and Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor.”
One notable omission is the Irish-born Kenneth Branagh, Oscar-nommed for “My Week With Marilyn” but absent from the IFTAs because the pic’s U.K. distrib Entertainment did not submit him for consideration.
Television is an important part of the IFTA ceremony. This year’s nominations reflect Ireland’s role in co-producing some major international series, with the best drama race pitching HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” shot in Northern Ireland,” against Showtime’s “The Borgias,” created by Neil Jordan and produced by Dublin’s Octagon Films.
But as last year, the leading contender is Octagon’s “Love/Hate” with 10 nods. Now in its second season, it’s a crime drama set in Dublin’s underworld, starring Aidan Gillen, who gets a leading actor nod for “Love/Hate” and a supporting actor nod for “Game of Thrones.”
Also nominated twice is Ruth Negga, as leading TV actress for Welsh drama “Shirley” as supporting TV actress for Brit series “Misfits.” Maria Doyle Kennedy gets a leading TV actress nom for the Gaelic-lingo series “Corp + Anam,” to go with her supporting actress nod for “Albert Nobbs.”
• All eyes on the emerald isle