McDonagh, best known as a theatrical playwright for such Tony-nominated plays as The Beauty Queen of Leenane, The Lonesome West, The Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, previously won an Academy Award for the 2005 Best Live Action Short, "Six Shooter," which he wrote and directed.
In Bruges, a darkly comic drama set in the historic Belgian city, centers on Irish hit men Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who, following a London assignment that went wrong, are ordered by their boss, the vicious Harry (Ralph Fiennes), to lay low for two weeks in the storybook setting, where much of its medieval architecture remains intact.
The film has been nominated for Best Independent British Film, and McDonagh has received a nominations for both the Douglas Hickox Award (for Best Debut Director) and Best Screenplay. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson have both been nominated for Best Actor, while Ralph Fiennes (currently appearing in the title role of Oedipus at the National Theatre) has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. John Gregory has additionally been nominated in the Best Technical Achievement category for his editing of the feature.
In addition to the nominated categories, there will be two further awards, with David Thewlis honored with the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor, and Michael Sheen – star of the screen incarnation of Frost/Nixon in which he re-created the role of David Frost that he played in the original stage version at the Donmar Warehouse, the West End and Broadway – receiving the Variety Award for bringing the international spotlight to the British film industry.
The awards will be presented in a ceremony at Old Billingsgate Market in London on Nov. 30.