Is this movie now the frontrunner for 2017’s Best Film Oscar?

Mel Gibson's directorial comeback is the surprise hit of Venice Film Festival

The 2017 Oscars are still six months away, but both Cannes and now the Venice Film Festival have thrown up early contenders for the coveted Best Film award next February.

On Monday night a particularly unlikely and controversial contender entered the race. Mel Gibson and his new film Hacksaw Ridge received a ten-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival.

Starring Andrew Garfield, Teresa Palmer and Vince Vaughn, the film tells the true story of a pacifist called Desmond T. Doss (played by Garfield) who famously fought in WWII as an army medic without firing a single shot.

Hacksaw Ridge is Gibson’s first directorial effort for ten years – his last being 2006’s Apocalypto. The intervening years have been marred with scandal and controversy, where his racist and misogynistic views have made him a Hollywood pariah.

His new film seems to be an effort towards redemption for his past mistakes, though there are many who will not quickly forgive his past behaviour and some argue that the enemies he has made at the Academy mean he will miss out on the vote for Best Director.

But one thing critics do seem to agree on is the quality of the film. According to Deadline, 10-minute standing ovations are not as common as they are at Cannes or Sundance, and the movie is being hailed as one of the most spectacular and moving war films in recent years, even though one critic still described its director as ‘repellent.’

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