In the history of falls from grace, there are falls, and then there's Mel Gibson. For years, Mel could do no wrong in Hollywood circles or in the eyes of the fans. He was a household name starring in popular franchises like #MadMax and #LethalWeapon as well as more serious fare such as #Hamlet and Tequila Sunrise. His laid back, laconic charm made him one of the most loved actors of a generation.
Just as Gibson reached his peak and when he was truly accepted as a master of his craft on both sides of the camera, the unthinkable happened. He was recorded making anti-semetic comments to a police officer after a DUI arrest in 2006.
It was a meltdown worthy of his classic character, Martin Riggs and led to to a spiral in Gibson's fortunes and personal life. Shortly thereafter, additional rants against his ex-girlfriend were also recorded and released to the public. There were also periods in rehab for alcoholism and domestic abuse charges that followed, all of which further damaged his already battered reputation.
Gibson continued to work, however, making more left-field movies than he had previously and restricting his directing choices to a remake of the BBC TV drama Edge of Darkness as well as appearing in smaller movies like The Beaver. Nevertheless, there was always hope that eventually Gibson might find his way back to the limelight via the right project.
When old friend Robert Downey Jr. used his acceptance speech at the 2011 American Cinematheque awards to ask for forgiveness for Gibson, who had helped him through some of his own personal demons and tough times, the signs seemed good for Gibson's future in film, even if the time wasn't yet right for everyone.
Fast forward a few years later and that special project Gibson needed to reinvigorate his career came in the form of Hacksaw Ridge. (Check out the trailer above.) The film follows the true story of Desmond Doss, an objector who, despite refusing to carry a weapon, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
While the cast was not entirely made up of A-list actors, there were certainly some big names who had chosen to work with Gibson including: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn and Hugo Weaving. These are the kind of actors Gibson thrives on working with as a director and it was perhaps inevitable that Hacksaw Ridge became the (not so) surprise hit of last year. The fact that actors of this caliber were willing to work with Gibson on a new film was a strong signal that his reputation has improved.
Today that culminated with the film being nominated both for six Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Gibson. Does this mean that Hollywood has finally forgiven Gibson for the his past behavior? On the surface, it would appear so. It is now 11 years since the fateful night where that first drunken rant caused so many problems made its way to the public.
Gibson has raised his profile slowly, never taking anything for granted and with each movie role he took he helped former fans remember a little bit about why they used to love him so much. For others, however offended they may have been, they've also been able to see him as a tragic figure overcoming personal demons rather than one of hate.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect is the current zeitgeist. In a new world where a newly sworn in President regularly utters more controversial comments than Mel ever did. It has perhaps been realized actually, he was a guy who made a couple of big mistakes linked to an addiction.
Since then he has worked hard to regain people's trust and his talent is undeniable when you look at #HacksawRidge. Gibson never lost that talent, but his mistakes did overshadow it for some time.
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I have a strong feeling that while #LaLaLand will win the Oscar for Best Movie, the Academy Award for Best Director could indeed go to Mel Gibson and it would be the perfect crowning event to his comeback. As good as La La Land, #Moonlight and the other nominees are, Hacksaw Ridge is actually the best balanced and directed film of the bunch.
In many ways Gibson's tale of redemption is sweeter than Sylvester Stallone's or Mickey Rourke's trips to the #Oscars. Here is a guy who really did have it all, really did blow it and has worked his ass off to get back to roughly a similar spot in his career. There will be few dry eyes in the house if he pulls it off and grabs the Oscar.
I for one am glad to see Gibson's name back among the those nominated and feel it's long overdue. He did a few really shitty things, but haven't we all?
Even if there isn't a 2017 Oscar in Gibson's future his next move could bring him back to the blockbuster fold and seal his comeback anyway. Downey has mentioned that he would like Gibson to direct Iron Man 4 if it were to be made.
Nevertheless, he's already lost everything once and come back. So whether he wins an Oscar this year or not, he's already a winner.
What do you think? Has Mel Gibson been forgiven or is the movie just that good?