thoughts//THE CASE FOR 'HACKSAW RIDGE'

AWARDS COVERAGE



Going into awards season, few surprises lingered more than director Mel Gibson's wartime drama starring Andrew Garfield. Mostly supported by Gibson's rocky, and somewhat recent, past, the critical and commercial success of Hacksaw Ridge gave it just enough momentum to show up on several Top Ten lists at the end of the year and as a multi-nominee from many guilds, critics circles, and major awards bodies.

Most of the praise is focused on star Garfield's impressive turn as Desmond T. Doss, a real-life war hero most notable for also being a conscientious objector during WWII. Despite his personal moral standards, Doss saved a number of fellow soldiers without ever firing a single shot.

The backstory is impressive and inspiring, making the fact that a film was created a no-brainer. Gibson's attention to heart/soul, while also providing plenty of war film violence, is the touch audiences have come to expect from the director.

Oscar hasn't been as friendly to Gibson over the years, despite his once reign as a box office surety. His film Braveheart received plenty of awards love, but more recent efforts like The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto barely scratched the surface. Both films garnered a few nominations, but no wins.

With Hacksaw Ridge, Gibson is back in the saddle as a critical darling. The film quickly climbed the box office charts, plus earned 6 Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture.

Let's analyze the film's chances at this Sunday's 89th Academy Awards!

BEST PICTURE

Should It Win:
The film does end leaving you exhausted, emotional, and inspired, but the first half is a mess. Based solely on merit, Hacksaw Ridge fails to completely compel in ways a Best Picture film should (though, biases come in to play here). It's definitely entertaining and the second half is an incredible piece of filmmaking. When looking at the project as a whole, though, the film falters.

Will It Win:
Like a few of the other films nominated, the nomination is enough. La La Land still has this award wrapped around its finger and there are other, more deserving films nominated for the big prize.

BEST DIRECTOR

Should Mel Gibson Win:
Gibson's nomination was one of the surprises of this year's crop. Though the film won over critics and audiences upon release, there was still an uneasiness about Gibson's troubled past. Plus, with conversations abounding around Nate Parker and Casey Affleck, Gibson's nomination seemed far fetched. But, it happened.

Like earlier mentioned, the second half of the film is incredible. Gibson's nomination is most definitely in regards to that piece of filmmaking.

Will Mel Gibson Win:
It'll be tough. This is Damien Chazelle's award to lose, with Moonlight's Barry Jenkins in a close second place. Gibson's nomination is award enough.

BEST ACTOR

Should Andrew Garfield Win:
Andrew Garfield, who's still young, gave a powerhouse performance this year. Unfortunately, it wasn't in this film. His endurance is to be respected, as is his consistent accent choice and brevity when it comes to the content of the picture. But, it all feels a little stilted. It may not be his fault, but Doss comes across as a little annoying, especially throughout the first half of the film.

Garfield's best work comes into play in the latter half, showcasing emotion and strength in the face of fear. It's inspired, but his better work is in Martin Scorsese's Silence.

Will Andrew Garfield Win:
In short, no. It would be interesting to see what would have happened had Silence been a larger awards season player.

BEST FILM EDITING

Should It Win:
The second half of the film, in all of its magic, must be what voters were more focused on. In the case of the film's editing, war scenes need good editing to work. And, Hacksaw Ridge benefits from strong editing.

Long in length, the battle scene whips by with an enormous amount of energy and pace. It's edge-of-your-seat thrills, but with a sense of levity and prestige.

Will It Win:
There's a strong chance Hacksaw Ridge could have an edge here. War films do tend to do well, as in a few of the other technical categories. But, musicals also do well in editing. With La La Land nominated, Hacksaw Ridge's chances are slim.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Should It Win:
Again, the second half of the film is where the magic happens. Both Sounds Mixing and Sound Editing are lovers of war films, mostly due to the amounts of sounds happening at a single time. During the film's battle scenes, part of the excitement comes from the impeccable sounds and how they blend with the action. It would make sense to honor the movie here.

Will It Win:
Though war films have a great track record, La La Land should take this one. Having recorded all of the vocals live, there's a lot of magic needed to make the musical move as smoothly as it does.

BEST SOUND EDITING

Should It Win:
In creating sounds, Hacksaw Ridge includes some memorable moments, mostly through the innovative ways the sound artists created bullets whizzing by and bones crunching.

Will It Win:
Sound Editing is the one category that is almost a sure-fire win for Hacksaw Ridge. But, La La Land surprised everyone by ending up a nominee here. Musicals are almost always left out of the Sound Editing category. Depending how much the Academy loved that film, it could sweep here, as well. 

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