Mel Gibson did the time and, after a decade in “director’s jail,” during which almost no one in Hollywood would work with him, he is apparently free.
His 2006 anti-Semitic tantrum during a DUI arrest has been all but forgotten; ditto those secretly recorded conversations in which he physically threatened the mother of his child while spewing racial epithets. No matter, Gibson is back on top with three Golden Globe nominations for his latest directorial effort, “Hacksaw Ridge” — and that’s three more than Martin Scorsese got for “Silence.”
“Hacksaw” made the shortlist for best drama, as well as best actor, for Andrew Garfield, and best director for Gibson himself. In addition to Scorsese, Gibson beat out “Loving” director Jeff Nichols, Denis Villeneuve of “Arrival” and “Jackie’s” Pablo Larrain, among other worthy contenders. The movie was also named one of the 10 best of the year by both the AFI and National Board of Review, and it won the best action movie prize at last night’s Critics’ Choice Awards.
Although Gibson has stayed largely out of the spotlight for the last decade, he has coincidentally made some of his most buzz-worthy appearances during that time at the Globes. In 2013, he was Jodie Foster’s plus-one to the awards ceremony when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award, reminding viewers at home of his existence. Throughout Gibson’s years as a Hollywood pariah, Foster has stuck by him, even casting him in her movie “The Beaver,” which bombed at the box office in 2011.
Last year, Gibson had an awkward exchange with Ricky Gervais when the comedian introduced the actor and searched for something nice to say about him before settling on, “I’d rather have a drink with him than Bill Cosby.” After Gibson took the stage and said he enjoyed seeing Gervais every three years because it was a good reminder to get a colonoscopy, Gervais returned to the stage to ask Gibson, “What the f– is sugar t–?” Gervais was referring to the epithet Gibson drunkenly used on a female cop during his 2006 arrest.
But this year Gibson will be back at the Globes on his own merits and, considering Gervais won’t be hosting, he probably won’t get nearly so ridiculed. (Jimmy Fallon, friend to all celebrities and presidential candidates, is this year’s host.)
Gibson’s return is clearly due only to the merits of his World War II drama about a conscientious objector, since his press tour was not without kinks. He hasn’t always appeared lucid, much less contrite. He had an awkward interview with Stephen Colbert, despite the fact that the “Late Night” host was doing nothing but throwing softballs. And his sit-down with The Washington Post was one for the record books.
Maybe Gibson could have skipped the press tour altogether. His movie got a standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year and it has an 87 percent rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. CinemaScore says audiences gave it an “A,” and the movie has pulled in close to $84 million worldwide.
It appears that, despite Gibson’s efforts, his work behind the camera has put him back in Hollywood’s good graces. Does this mean that he’ll get a stamp of approval from the Academy? We’ll see if those voters are as forgiving as the 100 foreign journalists who dictate the Golden Globes.