2016 #23 – Hacksaw Ridge (dir. Mel Gibson)

“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.” – Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Mel Gibson
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths
Written By: Andrew Knight, Robert Schenkkan
Running Time: 139 minutes (2 hours, 19 minutes)
Genre(s): Biographical, Drama, History, War

If someone were to tell me a year ago that by this time next year Mel Gibson would have a major comeback with a 6-time Oscar nominated film (including a nomination for Best Director), I would have never believed it. Alas, here we are and here Mel is with the industry completely on his side. At least from a film-making perspective, is his comeback entirely well-earned though?

Hacksaw Ridge tells the real life story of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who became the first conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor. As to be expected, Doss has to overcome a lot of obstacles throughout the film as he struggles to earn the respect of those he is going to war with.

This film struggles a lot in the first half, with a hokey, cheesy tone that does a really terrible job at setting up what is to come. A lot of what goes on in the first half of the movie comes across as preachy and not genuine. However, once Hacksaw Ridge finally gets to, you know, Hacksaw Ridge, things begin to pick up.

The battle scenes in this movie involve some pretty stunning film-making, at least when it gets to the point where Doss begins to save the dying U.S. soldiers who were left behind in the battlefield. There is an appropriate amount of tension, drama and suspense in these scenes that are matched with some fantastic editing and makeup work, taking you right in the moment. Gibson doesn’t shy away from the brutality of war here and I appreciate it – I believe these scenes are what got him his Best Director nomination.

As a whole though, I don’t know if I’d say I love Hacksaw Ridge. Some well-shot scenes don’t make up for some of the issues I had with it, including the lack of depth in almost all of the characters sans Doss and its overly-sentimental tone. Andrew Garfield is good, but that’s kind of where his performance ends – he’s never really given the opportunity to explore his character as much as he could.

Overall, Hacksaw Ridge is an okay film and while I’m not entirely in love with it, I can understand why it would have its supporters. 3/5.

2016 Personal Ballot (updates are in bold)

Best Picture
The Handmaiden
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water

Best Director
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Park Chan-wook – The Handmaiden
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water

Best Actor in a Leading Role
1. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
2. Denzel Washington – Fences
3. Joel Edgerton – Loving
4. Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
5. Ryan Gosling – La La Land

Best Actress in a Leading Role
1. Krisha Fairchild – Krisha
2. Emma Stone – La La Land
3. Sally Field – Hello, My Name Is Doris
4. Kim Min-hee – The Handmaiden
5. Kim Tae-ri – The Handmaiden

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1. Ashton Sanders – Moonlight
André Holland – Moonlight
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
5. Ben Foster – Hell or High Water

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
1. Viola Davis – Fences
2. Lupita Nyong’o – Queen of Katwe
3. Janelle Monaé – Hidden Figures
4. Lucy Boynton – Sing Street
5. Naomie Harris – Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay
1. Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
2. Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
3. Sing Street – Simon Carmody, John Carney
4. La La Land – Damien Chazelle
5. Hello, My Name Is Doris – Michael Showalter, Laura Terruso

Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
The Handmaiden – Park Chan-wook, Chung Seo-kyung
3. Fences – August Wilson
4. Loving – Jeff Nichols
5. Krisha – Trey Edward Shults

Best Film Ensemble
1. Moonlight – Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monaé, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Hell or High Water – Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon, Dale Dickey, Kevin Rankin, Katy Mixon, Margaret Bowman
3. Fences – Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney
4. Hidden Figures – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monaé, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge
5. The Handmaiden – Kim Min-hee, Kim Tae-ri, Ha Jung-woo, Cho Jin-woong, Kim Hae-sook, Moon So-ri

Best Original Score
1. La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
3. The Handmaiden – Cho Young-wuk
4. Loving – David Wingo
5. The Jungle Book – John Debney

Best Original Song
La La Land – “Audition” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
Sing Street – “Drive It Like You Stole It” by Gary Clark
3. La La Land – “City of Stars” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
4. Sing Street – “To Find You” by Gary Clark
La La Land – “Another Day of Sun” by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Best Production Design
1. The Handmaiden – Ryu Seong-hie
2. Passengers – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena
3. La La Land – David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Stuart Craig, James Hambidge, Anna Pinnock
5. Hidden Figures – Missy Parker, Wynn Thomas

Best Cinematography
1. La La Land – Linus Sandgren
2. Moonlight – James Laxton
3. The Handmaiden – Chung Chung-hoon
4. Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
1. Deadpool – Bill Corso
2. Suicide Squad – Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini, Christopher Nelson
3. Hacksaw Ridge – Shane Thomas, Larry Van Duynhoven
4. Sing Street – Barbara Conway, Sandra Kelly
5. The Handmaiden – Song Jong-hee

Best Costume Design
1. The Handmaiden – Jo Sang-gyeong
2. Sing Street – Tiziana Corvisieri
3. Queen of Katwe – Mobolaji Dawodu
4. La La Land – Mary Zophres
5. Hidden Figures – Renée Ehrlich Kalfus

Best Film Editing
1. Moonlight – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders
2. La La Land – Tom Cross
3. The Handmaiden – Kim Jae-bum, Kim Sang-bum
4. Hell or High Water – Jake Roberts
5. Hacksaw Ridge – John Gilbert

Best Visual Effects
1. The Jungle Book
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Hacksaw Ridge
5. Deadpool

2016 Ranked (updates are in bold)

1. Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins)
The Handmaiden (dir. Park Chan-wook)
La La Land (dir. Damien Chazelle)
Manchester by the Sea (dir. Kenneth Lonergan)
Hell or High Water (dir. David Mackenzie)
Sing Street (dir. John Carney)
Loving (dir. Jeff Nichols)
8. The Jungle Book (dir. Jon Favreau)
9. Fences (dir. Denzel Washington)
10. Krisha (dir. Trey Edward Shults)
11. Queen of Katwe (dir. Mira Nair)
12. Hidden Figures (dir. Theodore Melfi)
13. Deadpool (dir. Tim Miller)
14. Finding Dory (dir. Andrew Stanton)
15. Hello, My Name Is Doris (dir. Michael Showalter)
16. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (dir. David Yates)
17. Christine (dir. Antonio Campos)
18. Hacksaw Ridge (dir. Mel Gibson)
19. Captain Fantastic (dir. Matt Ross)
20. Passengers (dir. Morten Tyldum)
21. Sausage Party (dir. Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon)
22. The Girl on the Train (dir. Tate Taylor)
23. Suicide Squad (dir. David Ayer)


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