Oscars Preview: 30 Movies to Watch Before the Nominations Come Out!

13 of 31

Image via Summit Entertainment

Hacksaw Ridge

What it’s about:

Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a soldier in World War II. Doss holds a strong belief in nonviolence, but wants to help with the war effort. He signs up to enlist in the Army, intending to be a medic. But his sergeant and fellow soldiers harass him when he refuses to carry or handle any firearms. Hacksaw Ridge follows Doss through his trial for insubordination, as well as the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, in which he went into the carnage unarmed to save his fellow soldiers.

Major Players:

Mel Gibson, who directed Hacksaw Ridge, is primarily known for acting, but his only Oscar wins are for Best Director and Best Picture, for Braveheart in 1996. The script was written by Andrew Knight and Robert Schenkkan, the latter of which has won a Pulitzer and a Tony, but no Oscar so far. Hacksaw Ridge stars perennial favorite Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss, as well as Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington in supporting roles.

What the Critics are Saying:

With an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, Hacksaw Ridge has received extremely positive reviews. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone calls it “the best war film since Saving Private Ryan.” David Edelstein of Vulture praises Gibson’s directing, writing, “there isn’t a second in his war film Hacksaw Ridgethat doesn’t burn with his peculiar intensity. He has chosen exactly the right subject for himself.”

But quite a few reviewers have noted that the film “feels at odds with itself,” as Barbara Shulgasser-Parker of Common Sense Media puts it. The New York Times’s A.O. Scott agrees, writing, “The film pretends to be a grim reckoning with the horrors of war, but it is also, true to its genre, a rousing celebration of the thrills of battle.” Sandy Schaefer of Screen Rant notes that it “…excels as an action/thriller, but has mixed success in realizing its loftier thematic ambitions.”

Possible Nominations:

Best Picture, Best Director (Gibson), Leading Actor (Garfield), Best Adapted Screenplay (Knight and Schenkkan), Cinematography (Simon Duggan)