Academy Recognizes Faith-Based ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Mel Gibson-directed movie breaks glass ceiling with Oscar nominations

“Hacksaw Ridge” has broken a major glass ceiling for faith-based movies everywhere. The Mel Gibson-directed feature has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Gibson), and Best Actor (Andrew Garfield).

Despite faith-based movies growing more and more popular with audiences looking for positive messages that relate to their lives (“God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven is for Real,” “Son of God,” “The Passion of the Christ”), it’s a genre that Hollywood has not been able to respect or accept in any meaningful capacity.

Studios outright ignored financing for any faith-based pictures until only recently; award recognition has been out of the question.

Studios outright ignored financing for any faith-based pictures until only recently, and award recognition has been out of the question. Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was arguably the film to bring back the faith-based picture by proving major audiences still craved films that commented positively on religion, but the film was essentially snubbed by the Academy Awards in 2004.

Despite earning high praise from audiences (who made it the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and the most financially successful independent film of all time), as well as from some critics, “Passion” only earned three technical nominations from the Academy Awards.

Related: New Oscar Contender: ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

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Since “Passion,” faith-based pictures have only grown bigger and more respectable in quality, yet Hollywood has refused to acknowledge them in any significant way. That changed Tuesday morning when “Hacksaw Ridge” earned six Academy Award nominations.

“Ridge,” released in November, served as a comeback vehicle for Gibson, who has struggled with his image in Hollywood in recent years. After several controversial comments, many predicted Gibson was done in the business.

“Ridge” tells the story of Desmond T. Doss (portrayed by Garfield), a Medal of Honor recipient who served valiantly in World War II as a medic. Refusing to handle a rifle because of his religious convictions, Doss suffered endless ridicule from fellow soldiers until he proved himself on the battlefield — saving 75 souls during the Battle of Okinawa.

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The film respectfully pushed the same religious convictions Gibson shared through “Passion.” A box office success, “Ridge” has now become the faith-based picture to truly earn the respect of Hollywood. Its nominations open up even more doors for the fast-evolving faith-based genre.

Other Best Picture nominees to be announced were “Moonlight,” “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Arrival,” “Hidden Figures,” “Lion,” “Fences,” and “Hell or High Water.”

“Hell or High Water” was another interesting and surprisingly movie to be recognized by the Academy. A modern-day Western, the film follows two Texas brothers who take to robbing banks to save their family’s land.

Related: Why We Still Love Westerns

Actor Jeff Bridges, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the film, commented in November that “High Water” had tapped into the same audience that had voted for Donald Trump.

“The story the movie is telling shines a light on why the election went the way that it did, and how seriously disappointed many people have been in the way the government is running. They have little faith in it, and we’ll see. I hope we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater here. But I’m rooting for the guy, Mr. Trump,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly.

“Hell or High Water” was nominated for a total of four Academy Awards. The biggest winner to come out of the Tuesday morning nomination announcements was, predictably, “La La Land.” The film serves as both a love letter to Hollywood and old musicals. It walked away with 14 nominations, which tied it for the record with “All About Eve” and “Titanic.” The Academy Award ceremony will air on Feb. 26.

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