It appears that Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson may be back in the Oscar hunt this year. While it’s been 20 years since Gibson picked up the Best Director and Best Picture trophies for Braveheart, the filmmaker is back with his first directorial effort in a decade, and the film has landed an Oscar-friendly release date. As per Deadline, Lionsgate has opted to release Gibson’s World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge on November 4th, putting it right in the heart of the awards battle. The decision was made after the film reportedly “tested through the roof,” with the picture described as having “equal parts drama, action and faith-based nuances.”
Andrew Garfield leads the true story drama as Desmond T. Doss, the first conscientious objector in U.S. history to win the Medal of Honor. Doss was an army medic who refused to bear arms, but ended up saving the lives of 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa, putting himself directly in the line of fire.
The diverse ensemble also includes Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, and Rachel Griffiths, and it marks a fascinating choice of material for Gibson. Three out of his four directorial features—Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and Apocalypto—are incredibly violent, but Doss’ story is one of pacifism, and I’ll be curious to see if Gibson backs off the graphic nature of war violence or if he maintains similar levels in an effort to present a juxtaposition between the nature of war and the nature of Doss.
On that November release date, Hacksaw Ridge will square off against Marvel’s Doctor Strange, the animated Trolls, and the Warner Bros. comedy Bastards, but it’ll be interesting to see if the film will take the fall film festival route as part of its awards run. Gibson faces stiff competition from new films from Ang Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Clint Eastwood with regards to this year’s Oscar race, and given his PR troubles it will no doubt be a colorful ride.