The actor, best known for playing Chester's Brendan Brady, received the nod for his lead role in dark Irish film Charlie Casanova.
IFTA's 'Rising Star' nominees are selected by a panel and the award aims to highlight "exceptional new and breakthrough talent working in all areas of the Irish film industry".
Scanlan is in the running for the prize alongside actor Chris O'Dowd and writer-directors John Michael McDonagh and Rebecca Daly.
Writing on Twitter today, he said: "Am truly honoured in receiving the @IFTA Rising Star nomination! And in ridiculous company too - massive thanks."
The Hollyoaks favourite filmed Charlie Casanova in 2010. Billed as "A Clockwork Orange meets American Psycho", the film tells the story of a ruling class sociopath who kills a working class girl in a hit and run - before using a deck of playing cards to determine his fate.
Scanlan was named 'Best Actor' at the 2011 European Independent Film Festival for his role in the movie last April.
The 2012 Irish Film & Television Awards take place in Dublin on February 11.
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Watch Digital Spy's recent interview with Emmett Scanlan in the video below: