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Mel Gibson Returns to Oscars With First Nomination Since ‘Braveheart’

For the first time in 20 years, Mel Gibson is back in the Oscar fold.

The controversial actor and director has been nominated for Best Director for his work on “Hacksaw Ridge”– his first since he took home a director  Oscar for “Braveheart” in 1996. “Hacksaw Ridge,” which tells the story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss and how he saved 75 people during the Battle of Okinawa, racked up six total nominations — best picture, best director, best actor (Andrew Garfield), film editing, sound mixing, and sound editing. Of the best director nominees — which also includes Damien Chazelle, Kenneth Lonergan, Barry Jenkins, and Denis Villeneuve — Gibson is the only one who has been nominated previously.

After his nomination, and eventual win, for Best Director in “Braveheart,” Gibson became embroiled in several scandals, turning many in Hollywood against him. He was arrested in 2006 for a DUI, during which he unleashed a drunken tirade capped with him shouting “f—ing jews” at the police officer. He was later sentenced to three years probation.

Four years later in 2010, he was recorded during a phone call with ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva where he suggested if she were “raped by a a bunch of n—–s,” she would be to blame. Gibson was barred from going near Grigorieva or their daughter by a restraining order, and later plead no contest to a misdemeanor battery charge.

At the time of the anti-Semitic rant, he apologized to the Jewish community, though in recent years he has preferred to deflect attention away from his misdeeds with euphemisms such as saying he went through a “rough patch.”

“Hacksaw Ridge’s” six nominations made it the third-highest nominated film of the year, tied with “Lion” and “Manchester by the Sea,” behind “La La Land” with 14 and “Arrival” and “Moonlight” with eight each.

Gibson won the Golden Globes director trophy in 1995 for “Braveheart,” then went on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. He also received actor nominations for “Ransom” in 1997 and “What Women Want” in 2001.

“Hacksaw Ridge” is Gibson’s fifth directorial effort, following “The Man Without a Face,” “Braveheart,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Apocalypto.” He told Variety at the Los Angeles premiere in November that he came on to the project after reading the screenplay by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan:  “I read the script and was crying.”

The WWII drama has performed solidly at the U.S. box office for Lionsgate with $65 million plus another $92 million overseas.

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