IFTA Films & Drama Award 2020: Academy Nominations Announced

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The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) has announced the 2020 IFTA Nominations for the Irish Academy Awards across 25 categories in Film and Drama.

Over the past few months during lockdown, the Irish film and television industry has been busy viewing, deliberating and shortlisting the best work from across great Irish films, performances and achievements in what has been an unprecedented period of success for Irish creative talent working at home and abroad.

Nominations have been shortlisted by Irish Academy Members alongside a specialist Jury panel of industry experts from around the world.

IFTA Chief Executive, Áine Moriarty stated that:  “This year’s Nominations showcase to the world what Ireland’s small but excellent film and television community has to offer.  Our industry is delivering world-class standards and the Irish Academy is proud to showcase and acknowledge their achievements.  These past few months have been difficult for so many, and we look forward to a time when Irish productions can resume and continue to bring powerful engaging stories to the screen”.

The Academy is currently finalising plans for a bespoke virtual 2020 Awards Ceremony scheduled for September with full details to be announced shortly.  The Academy has also confirmed that due to Covid-19 restrictions there will be no physical IFTA Awards Ceremony until April 2021, in keeping with best international practice across Awards ceremonies worldwide.

2020 IFTA Nominations:

The Best Film Nominees this year have been split into two categories  - Film 2019 and Film 2020, while other categories have been expanded from 4 to 6 nominees to reflect the excellent work from over the last two years.

The Best Film 2019 Nominees are Black '47, Lance Daly’s revenge thriller set against the backdrop of the great Irish Famine,  Float Like a Butterfly, Carmel Winters inspiring coming-of-age boxing drama set in a traveller community in 1960’s Ireland,  Rosie, Paddy Breathnach’s moving film about the resilience and determination of a family struggling through the Homeless Crisis,  The Dig, Andy and Ryan Tohill’s thrilling tale of revenge and redemption, and  The Hole in the Ground, Lee Cronin’s superbly scary Irish horror.

The Best Film 2020 Nominees are A Bump Along the Way, about the awkward relationship between an immature mum who finds herself pregnant and her disapproving teenage daughter, Arracht  Tom Sullivan’s Irish-Language story of a man’s struggle for sanity and survival during the Great Famine, Calm with Horses, a dark crime drama about divided loyalties and family in the west of Ireland, Extra Ordinary, Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman’s hilarious, warm-hearted supernatural comedy, and Ordinary Love, Lisa Barros D’sa & Glenn Leyburn’s moving portrait of a couple as they deal with a cancer diagnosis.

The Best Director Category sees films from both years represented strongly. The nominees are  Paddy Breathnach for RosieNora Twomey for the animation The Breadwinner, Lance Daly for Black ’47, Tom Sullivan for Arracht, Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman for Extra Ordinary, Lee Cronin for The Hole in the Ground and Lisa Barros D’sa & Glenn Leyburn for Ordinary Love.

Four of the Best Film/Best Director nominations are for feature debuts for their directors, including Andy & Ryan Tohill for The Dig, Lee Cronin for The Hole in the Ground, Tom Sullivan for Arracht, and Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman for Extra Ordinary.

Nominated for Best Scriptwriter in Film is Roddy Doyle for Rosie, Owen McCafferty for Ordinary Love, Joe Murtagh for Calm with Horses, Mark O'Halloran for Rialto, Tom Sullivan for Arracht, and Carmel Winters for Float Like a Butterfly.

In the Acting Categories, the Academy welcomed a record number of submissions for females in all acting categories. Reflecting the improving number of lead roles being written for women in Irish Film, the number of lead actresses submitted in both film and drama superseded that of their male counterparts in lead categories.

In the Actress in a Leading Role (Film) Category, Jessie Buckley is nominated for her performance in country-and-western underdog musical story Wild RoseAisling Franciosi for her gut-wrenching performance in the harrowing revenge thriller The Nightingale, Bronagh Gallagher’s warm and funny portrayal of a mum, forced to finally grow up due to a surprise pregnancy in A Bump Along the Way, Sarah Greene for her portrayal of the titular Rosie who’s determination and perseverance holds her family together, Seána Kerslake for her portrayal of a young mother faced with the terrifying prospect that her son may not be the boy she thinks he is in The Hole in the Ground,  and Saoirse Ronan for her performance as Jo in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of  Little Women.

In the Actor in a Leading Role Film category, Dara Devaney is nominated for his performance as a musician crippled in a car accident who joins a violent, avant-garde circus in Finky; Moe Dunford is shortlisted for his portrayal of a man seeking redemption for a crime he cannot remember committing in The Dig, Liam Neeson’s performance as a husband dealing with his wife’s cancer diagnosis sees the veteran actor nominated for one of the best performances of his career. Dónall Ó Héalaí is nominated for his breakout performance as a man struggling to survive and stay sane in the Famine, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor is shortlisted for his stunning performance as a man living a double life in Rialto, and Barry Ward is nominated for his portrayal of Martin Martin in the hilarious Extra Ordinary.

Niamh Algar is nominated for Supporting Actress (Film) for her role as a fiercely protective young mother in Calm with Horses, alongside Caitriona Balfe for her performance in racing drama Le Mans ’66; Seána Kerslake earns her second nomination for her performance in Dublin Oldschool; Charlie Murphy for her role as the troubled matriarch in Dark Lies the Island; Emily Taaffe for her role as a grieving sister in The Dig, and Catherine Walker for her role in Paul Mercier’s We Ourselves.  

Nominated Actors in Supporting Role (Film) are Lorcan Cranitch for The Dig, Dara Devaney for Arracht, Barry Keoghan for Calm with Horses, Ian Lloyd-Anderson for Dublin Oldschool, Stephen Rea for Black ’47, and David Wilmot for Ordinary Love.

Television Drama Nominations:
Television Drama being produced across Ireland north and south continues to grip both Irish and International audiences with compelling scripts, great direction and performances all round. In the Best Drama category, the nominations are
Blood, the taught, psychological thriller about a woman investigating her mother’s supposedly accidental death; Death and Nightingales, a riveting story of love, betrayal, deception and revenge, set in the beautiful haunting countryside of Fermanagh in 1885; Dublin Murders a tense, psychological thriller, which follows Dublin detectives Rob Reilly and Cassie Maddox as they investigate a child’s murder in 2006 and Vikings, which follows the exploits of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok and his crew, and later those of his sons.

The Best Director Drama category highlights the high calibre work being done by Irish Directors at home and abroad and in particular the strength of our female directors who make up 4 of the 6 nominations. Nominations in Best Director Drama are Anthony Byrne for Peaky Blinders, John Hayes for Dublin Murders, Lisa Mulcahy for Blood, Hannah Quinn for Blood, Aisling Walsh for Elizabeth is Missing and Dearbhla Walsh for The Handmaid's Tale.

Best Script Drama sees another strong showing for Irish talent working at home and abroad with  Ronan Bennett nominated for Top Boy, Daragh Carville for The Bay, Mark O'Connor for  Darklands and Mark O'Rowe for Temple

The nominations across all four Drama acting categories show just how well Irish actors are being received for their Irish and international work.  In the strongly contested Actress in a Leading Role category, Niamh Algar has been nominated for her performance in Channel 4’s The Virtues; Caitriona Balfe for her role in the US series, Outlander, Jessie Buckley for The Woman in White, Sarah Greene for Dublin Murders, Ruth Negga for the role of Tulip in the US comic-adaptation Preacher, and Ann Skelly for Death and Nightingales

The Actor in a Leading Role in Drama category  sees Richard Dormer nominated for Fortitude, Adrian Dunbar for Line Of Duty, Brendan Gleeson for Mr Mercedes, Cillian Murphy for Peaky Blinders, Chris O'Dowd for Get Shorty and Andrew Scott for his role in the Black Mirror episode Smithereens.

Actress in a Supporting Role Drama sees Niamh Algar earn her third nomination for Pure, Helen Behan for her role in The Virtues, Ruth Bradley for Guilt. Ingrid Craigie is nominated for her role in Blood and Fiona Shaw for Killing Eve, while Jessie Buckley earns her third nomination for Chernobyl

The Actor in a Supporting Role Drama category has nominations for Liam Cunningham for Game of Thrones, Barry Keoghan for Chernobyl, Owen McDonnell for Killing Eve, Cillian O'Gairbhi for Blood, Mark O'Halloran adds an acting nomination to his screenwriting nomination for Rialto with his role in The Virtues, while Rialto star Tom Vaughan Lawlor is nominated for Dublin Murders.

George Morrison Feature Documentary

The strongly contested Feature Documentary category showcases the incredible Irish work in the field with Ireland’s entry for the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film category Gaza being joined by I' Dolours, one woman's story of life and death in the IRA; Katie Taylor Documentary Katie, The Image you Missed;  a documentary essay film that weaves together a history of the Northern Irish Troubles with the story of a son's search for his father; The  Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid in which a farmer resists state agents who try to forcibly buy his land and When All is Ruin Once Again, a highly personal documentary essay, an original view of contemporary Gort (Co. Galway) and Crusheen (Co. Clare) and their environs.


Across the film Categories and including craft and technical, Arracht has 11 nominations, Rosie receives  9, The Hole in The Ground 7 , Black 47 6, Calm with Horses and Ordinary Love both receive 5 and Float like a Butterfly, Never Grow Old and The Dig receive 4 Nominations.

In the Acting Categories Niamh Algar and Jessie Buckley receive 3 Nominations each  across Film and TV Drama, followed by Caitriona Balfe, Sarah Greene, Dara Devaney, Tom Vaughan Lawlor and Barry Keoghan who each receive 2 Nominations.

In TV Drama Blood receives 5, Dublin Murders and Vikings 4 Nominations each, The Virtues and Game of Thrones receive 3 and Death and Nightingales and Killing Eve both receive 2 Nominations.

IFTA 2020 Nominee List


Best Film 2019

Black '47

Float Like a Butterfly


The Dig

The Hole in the Ground


Best Film 2020

A Bump Along the Way


Calm with Horses

Extra Ordinary

Ordinary Love


Best Director - Film

Paddy Breathnach - Rosie

Nora Twomey  - The Breadwinner

Lance Daly - Black '47

Tom Sullivan - Arracht

Mike Ahern & Enda Loughman - Extra Ordinary

Lee Cronin - The Hole in the Ground

Lisa Barros D'Sa & Glenn Leyburn - Ordinary Love


Best Script Film.

Roddy Doyle - Rosie

Owen McCafferty  -  Ordinary Love

Joe Murtagh  -  Calm with Horses

Mark O'Halloran  - Rialto

Tom Sullivan  -  Arracht

Carmel Winters - Float Like a Butterfly


Actress in a Lead Role Film

Jessie Buckley  -  Wild Rose

Aisling Franciosi  -  The Nightingale

Bronagh Gallagher  -  A Bump Along The Way

Sarah Greene  -  Rosie

Seána Kerslake   - The Hole In The Ground

Saoirse Ronan   - Little Women


Actor in a Lead Role Film

Dara Devaney  - Finky

Moe Dunford  - The Dig

Liam Neeson  - Ordinary Love

Dónall Ó Héalaí  - Arracht

Tom Vaughan Lawlor  -  Rialto

Barry Ward   - Extra Ordinary


Actress in a Supporting Role Film

Niamh Algar   - Calm With Horses

Catriona Balfe   - Le Mans '66

Seána Kerslake   - Dublin Oldschool

Charlie Murphy   - Dark Lies The Island

Emily Taaffe   - The Dig

Catherine Walker  -  We Ourselves


Actor in a Supporting Role Film

Lorcan Cranitch  - The Dig

Dara Devaney  - Arracht

Barry Keoghan  - Calm With Horses

Ian Lloyd-Anderson  -  Dublin Oldschool

Stephen Rea  - Black '47

David Wilmot   - Ordinary Love


The George Morrison Feature Documentary Award




The Image you Missed

The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid

When All is Ruin Once Again


Best Drama


Death and Nightingales

Dublin Murders



Best Director - Drama

Anthony Byrne  -  Peaky Blinders

John Hayes  -  Dublin Murders

Lisa Mulcahy  -  Blood

Hannah Quinn  -  Blood

Aisling Walsh  -  Elizabeth is Missing

Dearbhla Walsh  -  The Handmaid's Tale


Best Script Drama

Ronan Bennett  -  Top Boy

Daragh Carville  -  The Bay

Mark O'Connor  -  Darklands

Mark O'Rowe  -  Temple


Actress in a Lead Role Drama

Niamh Algar   - The Virtues

Caitriona Balfe - Outlander

Jessie Buckley   - The Woman in White

Sarah Greene  - Dublin Murders

Ruth Negga  - Preacher

Ann Skelly   - Death and Nightingales


Actor in a Lead Role Drama

Richard Dormer  - Fortitude

Adrian Dunbar  - Line Of Duty

Brendan Gleeson  -  Mr Mercedes

Cillian Murphy  -  Peaky Blinders

Chris O'Dowd  -  Get Shorty

Andrew Scott  -  Black Mirror – Smithereens


Actress in a Supporting Role Drama

Niamh Algar  -  Pure

Helen Behan  -  The Virtues

Ruth Bradley  -  Guilt

Jessie Buckley  -  Chernobyl

Ingrid Craigie  -  Blood

Fiona Shaw   - Killing Eve


Actor in a Supporting Role Drama

Liam Cunningham   - Game of Thrones

Barry Keoghan   - Chernobyl

Owen McDonnell  -  Killing Eve

Cillian O'Gairbhi   - Blood

Mark O'Halloran   - The Virtues

Tom Vaughan Lawlor  -  Dublin Murders




Ciúnas (Silence)


El Hor

Here's Looking at you Kid!


Sister This

The Grass Ceiling

The Vasectomy Doctor

Welcome To A Bright White Limbo



Outside the Box

Streets of Fury

The Bird & the Whale

The Dream Report

The Overcoat


Best Cinematography

Tom Comerford  -  The Hole in the Ground

Andrew McConnel  -  Gaza

Kate McCullough  -  Arracht

Piers McGrail  -  Never Grow Old

Robbie Ryan  -  Marriage Story

Cathal Watters  -  Rosie


Best Costume Design

Joan Bergin  -  The Catcher was a Spy

Clodagh Deegan  -  Arracht

Triona Lillis  -  Float Like A Butterfly

Eimear Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh  -  The Rhythm Section

Susan O'Connor Cave   - Vikings

Louise Stanton - Rosie


Best Editing

Colin Campbell  -  The Hole in The Ground

Dermot Diskin   - Never Grow Old

Michael Harte   - Three Identical Strangers

Tony Kearns   - Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

Mick Mahon   - Gaza

Úna Ní Dhonghaíle - Rosie


Best Original Music

KÍLA   - Arracht

Stephen McKeon  -  The Hole in the Ground

Stephen Rennicks   - The Little Stranger

Brian Byrne   - Black '47

Ray Harman   - Blood

Stephen Rennicks  -  Rosie


Best Production Design

Tom Conroy   - The Rhythm Section

Damien Creagh  -  Calm with Horses

Conor Dennison   - The Hole in the Ground

John Leslie   - Never Grow Old

Padraig O'Neil  - Arracht

Anna Rackard   - The Trial of Christine Keeler


Best Sound

Brendan Rehill & Alan Scully   - Arracht

Fionáin Higgins & Robert Flanagan   -  Black '47

Ronan Hill, Danny Crowley & Simon Kerr  -  Game of Thrones

Aza Hand, Karen O'Mahony and Patrick Drummond   - Never Grow Old

Hugh Fox & Niall Brady   - Rosie

Steve Fanagan & Niall Brady  -  The Little Stranger


Best Makeup & Hair-

Niamh O'Loan   - Arracht

Linda Gannon & Liz Byrne  -  Black '47

Louise Myler   - Finky

Polly McKay   - Ordinary Love

Dee Corcoran & Tom McInerney  -  Vikings

Eileen Buggy & Jennifer Hegarty   - Vita & Virginia


Best VFX

Jim O’Hagan and Ronan Gantly - Game of Thrones

Ed Bruce - The Favourite

Ed Bruce and Jim O'Hagan - The Irishman

Ed Bruce and Nicholas Murphy - We Have Always Lived in the Castle