IT will be a night of "cops and robbers" at the Irish Film and Television Awards next month.
After becoming the most successful independent Irish film of all time, taking €4m at the local box office, 'The Guard' looks destined to clean up in the cinema categories after receiving nine nominations in the shortlists announced yesterday.
Along with hoped-for gongs for Best Film, lead Brendan Gleeson is nominated for Best Actor, along with co-stars Liam Cunningham, Fionnula Flanagan and Don Cheadle, nominated in the Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and International Actor categories respectively for the black comedy. The film is also up for awards for Best Script, Sound and Production Design, with John Michael McDonagh nominated as Best Director.
Speaking last night, Mr Gleeson, who is also nominated for an IFTA for his supporting role in the movie 'Albert Nobbs', said he was looking forward to a "great night".
"I'm delighted to be nominated for these films," he added.
"'The Guard' and 'Albert Nobbs' were two very special projects. I'm looking forward to seeing many friends on the night, given the huge amount of nominations for both movies."
The former teacher has already received a Golden Globe nomination for 'The Guard'.
But if a wise-cracking cop looks likely to win plaudits on the big screen, it will be robbers cleaning up on the small screen, with no fewer than 10 IFTA nominations for RTE gangland drama 'Love/Hate'.
Shortlisted for awards in categories including Best Drama, directing, writing, acting, production design, sound and score, cast members Aidan Gillen, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Denise McCormack were all also nominated.
Dingle-based actor Gillen could well be making it a double, having received a nomination for his supporting role in the HBO series 'Game Of Thrones', which is filmed in Northern Ireland.
Best Film at IFTA 2012 will see period drama 'Albert Nobbs', Irish psychological thriller 'Charlie Casanova', and rural drama 'Stella Days' take on 'The Guard', with Mr Gleeson facing off against Michael Fassbender ('Shame'), Ciaran Hinds ('Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy') and Martin Sheen ('Stella Days') in the Best Actor Category.
Actress Saoirse Ronan has spoken of the cold she endured while filming 'Hanna' in the snows of northern Finland.
Now she has been nominated in the Best Actress category, but her role as a teenage assassin will pit her against rivals Marcella Plunkett ('Stella Days') and Antonia Campbell Hughes ('The Other Side of Sleep').
Amy Huberman ('Stella Days'), Maria Doyle Kennedy ('Albert Nobbs'), Brenda Fricker ('Albert Nobbs') and Fionnula Flanagan ('The Guard') are all shortlisted in the Supporting Actress Film category.
Ms Huberman said: "I'm incredibly honoured to be nominated for an IFTA for supporting actress in film for 'Stella Days' and completely humbled by the fantastic actresses I share the category with.
"The IFTAs are always a brilliant night and I'm really looking forward to it again."
There was some good news for RTE's suspended current affairs series 'Prime Time Investigates'.
Two of its programmes -- 'Carry On Regardless' and 'The Home Care Scandal' -- are nominated for the Best Current Affairs/News programme against 'The Frontline: The Presidential Debate' and RTE's coverage of the state visit to Ireland of Queen Elizabeth II.
Hosted by Simon Delaney, the ninth IFTAs will take place at Dublin's Convention Centre on February 11, and will be broadcast on RTE One at 9.30pm.