Why WWII drama 'Hacksaw Ridge' could be an Oscar contender

'Hacksaw Ridge' is directed by Mel Gibson and stars Andrew Garfield as a conscientious objector during World War II. How do movies about the conflict usually do during Oscar season?

Mark Rogers/Summit/AP
'Hacksaw Ridge' stars Andrew Garfield.

The World War II movie “Hacksaw Ridge,” which stars Andrew Garfield and is directed by Mel Gibson, is set to released on Nov. 4 and is being discussed as a possible Oscars contender.

If it gets the Academy votes, it would simply be the latest in a long line of films based on World War II.

“Hacksaw” also stars Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel Griffiths and is based on a true story about a medic, Desmond T. Doss (Garfield), who was a conscientious objector but received the Medal of Honor after he was responsible for saving more than 70 soldiers without ever picking up a gun. 

Mr. Garfield is being discussed as a possibility for acting awards during the upcoming awards season, as is Mr. Gibson for directing prizes. 

"The supporting cast is excellent, but it is Garfield who again impresses in a performance that will bring tears to even the most stone-faced in the audience," writes Deadline.com's Pete Hammond. 

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts gave out its list of "Oscar" nominations this week and the "pacifist World War II action drama scored 13 nods including Best Film, Best Director, and a mention in each of the acting categories," notes Deadline.com.

World War II is a frequent theme at the Oscars, with recent films such as 2014’s “The Imitation Game,” 2009’s “Inglourious Basterds,” and 2008’s “The Reader” all receiving nominations for Best Picture at the Oscars. The 1998 movie "Saving Private Ryan" was widely viewed as a strong contender for Best Picture, though it lost to "Shakespeare in Love," while the 2010 movie “The King’s Speech,” which tells the true story of how King George VI sought help for a stammer ahead of an important wartime speech, won the Best Picture award.

Los Angeles Times writer Randee Dawn writes about why Hollywood loves WWII stories: “For sheer drama and emotional resonance, nothing compares to World War II … One appeal for WWII is that it is familiar to nearly all audiences. Studied, taught and dramatized over and again, the war's intricacies are familiar to most. That gives audiences a default story framework few other real-life events can approach, and it makes it possible for storytellers and filmmakers to jump right into the meat of things.”

And Andrew Pulver of the Guardian writes, "The war itself, a gigantic conflict that played itself out in a myriad of theatres across the globe, that traumatised entire societies and triggered seismic political, technological and ethical upheavals, has almost endless potential for storytelling."

Frank Cottrell Boyce, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 2013 World War II movie "The Railway Man," told the Guardian, "We're attracted to it because of its moral certainties. Try explaining the cold war to kids: it was about a metaphysical geography of Europe that has completely vanished. But they have no problem grasping what the Normandy landings were about."

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