- Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017
- LOS ANGELES
The overwhelming majority of the time there is at least one difference between the Best Director Oscar and DGA Award nominee lineups. The fact is that in only five of the 69 years of the DGA Awards have the Guild nominations exactly mirrored their Academy Award counterparts.
This time around Mel Gibson is in line with that history, earning a Best Director Oscar nomination for Hacksaw Ridge (Summit Entertainment) despite not being one of the DGA Award nominees named a couple of weeks earlier. Four of the five directors for the DGA Award and the Outstanding Achievement in Directing Oscar are in sync this year: Damien Chazelle for La La Land (Summit Entertainment); Barry Jenkins for Moonlight (A24); Kenneth Lonergan for Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios); and Denis Villeneuve for Arrival (Paramount Pictures).
However, while Gibson landed the remaining Oscar nomination, the other DGA nod went to Garth Davis for Lion (The Weinstein Company). Davis was also a DGA nominee for Lion in the separate category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director for 2016.
On the flip side of tradition, if Gibson were to win the Oscar, he wouldn’t be aligned with but rather bucking history. Over the past 68 years, only seven times has the DGA Award winner not gone on to win the Oscar. The most recent such occurrence was in 2013 when Ben Affleck won the DGA Award for Argo while Ang Lee scored the Oscar for Life of Pi.
Hacksaw Ridge garnered a total of six nominations, the other five being for Best Picture, Leading Actor (Andrew Garfield), Editing (John Gilbert), Sound Editing (Robert Mackenzie, Andy Wright) and Sound Mixing (Wright, Mackenzie, Kevin O’Connell, Peter Grace).
Hacksaw Ridge stars Garfield as the real-life Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist and the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. An Army medic in World War II, he refused to carry a weapon, believing his moral duty was to save lives and not take them. After enlisting to serve in the Army, he arrives at training camp where he’s mercilessly harassed for refusing to even touch a rifle. He is subject to abuse and ultimately a court martial but is allowed to continue his tour of duty due to intervention from higher up. Doss then is sent to Okinawa, Japan, and thrust into the brutal battle at Hacksaw Ridge. There he saves assorted lives by persevering when most others have been forced to retreat. Doss, whose faith sustains him, comes to be recognized as a war hero.
3rd career Oscar nod
Hacksaw Ridge earned Gibson his third career Oscar nomination--he won for Best Picture and Best Director for Braveheart in 1996. That too was one of those rare years when the DGA and Best Director Oscar winner did not correspond. Gibson was a DGA nominee for Braveheart but the DGA Award went to Ron Howard for Apollo 13.
The past week has been eventful for Gibson. Last Friday (1/20), he became a father for the ninth time and just four days later he was named an Oscar nominee, reflecting a major career comeback. His profile had fallen in 2006 when he launched into a much publicized anti-Semitic tirade upon being arrested for suspicion of drunk driving in Malibu, Calif. Then in 2011 Gibson pleaded no contest to misdemeanor spousal battery against his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. He was sentenced to three years of probation, domestic violence counseling and two days of community service. Audio recordings surfaced of disturbing arguments between the two.
But now Gibson is back on top, his filmmaking career resurrected for being a driving force behind a picture that has collected six Oscar nominations.
In response to the strong Oscar showing by Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson issued a statement which read, “What could be more exciting than listening to the nominations being announced while holding my newborn son! This is a truly wonderful honor. I’m especially happy for Andrew Garfield, our producers Bill Mechanic and David Permut, our editor John Gilbert and our incredible sound teams. The Academy’s recognition of our film is a testament to every single person who worked on Hacksaw Ridge, and to every soldier who made the sacrifices they made to fight for their country, including Desmond Doss.”
Producer Mechanic said of the Oscar nominations, “I could not be more grateful and humbled than I am right now. This was such a difficult film to make and had to overcome so many obstacles to get this far, that the nominations by themselves are an achievement. I am so happy and proud of Mel and Andrew, without whom Hacksaw Ridge would never have reached this level of accomplishment. I take the Best Picture nomination as a sign of respect for our great cast, the dedicated crew, and the amazing and talented department heads. I believe that so many people on the film were worthy of recognition, but am pleased that John Gilbert, Kevin O’Connell, Rob MacKenzie, Andy Wright, and Peter Grace were all singled out for recognition. But the best thing about all the nominations is it brings attention to one of the greatest heroes I’ve ever come across: Desmond Doss, who is even more relevant today than his times.”
This is the 12th of a multi-part series with future installments of The Road To Oscar slated to run in the weekly SHOOT>e.dition, The SHOOT Dailies and on SHOOTonline.com, with select installments also in print issues. The series will appear weekly through the Academy Awards. The Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 26, 2017, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
Hacksaw Ridge earned six Oscar nominations for:
Director Mel Gibson
Lead actor Andrew Garfield
Editor John Gilbert
Sound editors Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
Sound mixing by Wright, Mackenzie, Kevin O'Connell and Peter Grace