Why did one religious epic succeed (Hacksaw Ridge) while one failed (Silence)?

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  • Daniel Montgomery
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    #1201981063

    On paper, it seems unusual that a Mel Gibson religious epic would be better received on the awards scene than a Martin Scorsese anything, but that’s what’s happening with “Hacksaw Ridge” consistently getting awards and “Silence” getting, well, the silent treatment. Given that they’re both religious epics with violent subject matter and Andrew Garfield, why has one done so well while the other hasn’t?

    My two theories are tone and timing. “Hacksaw” is a heroic, uplifting story about saving lives while “Silence” is more of a downer about losing one’s faith. But I think the bigger factor is timing. Given that “Silence” is a tough sit, it screened and opened too late for awards voters to see and process it. Then again, “The Revenant” was an even tougher sit last year, and it too screened and opened late, though it also had the driving “Give it to Leo!” narrative to help it along that this film doesn’t have.

    Still, it’s Scorsese, and this would potentially be only his second film this century to not come up with major Oscar nominations after “Shutter Island,” which didn’t have the prestige subject matter or release date (February) to indicate an awards contender anyway. Or maybe it could still bounce back “American Sniper”-style with a late surge, though missing out at the WGA Awards to “Deadpool” and not even making the cut at the Art Directors Guild — it’s not looking good.

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    mafro987
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    #1201981087

    The release date is the main reason. Films with a darker (albeit not necessarily religious) tone have attracted far more attention than Silence has, and its not like Hacksaw Ridge is any better overall than Silence. There’s always a big release or two that get shut out and this year its Silence.

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    GusCruz
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    #1201981090

    People don’t vote for movies they haven’t had the chance to see. Your idea of “failed” is… curious, and premature. Silence is ahead of Hacksaw on Metacritic.

    BTW, has Gibson ever given proof that he’s anything beyond mediocre as a director?

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    Bee
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    #1201981096

    Lack of promotion for Silence and bad timing. But it’s awards run isn’t 100% over yet.

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    Eddy Q
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    #1201981097

    With the guilds, you need screeners for late releases, and WGA and probably ADG didn’t get them for Silence. Apparently PGA and DGA have got them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the type of film where there’s a disconnect between the guilds and the Academy, with the former cold-shouldering it and the latter being more enthusiastic. BAFTA could be telling, but this is one of those cases where we really won’t know how things will go until Oscar nomination day.

    One thing Silence does have is a place in the AFI Top 10 of the year, which by no means should be considered a precursor but does at least illustrate that the film played well to an audience that combines populist and specialist sensibilities, a bit like the Academy. This is an award which The Tree of Life had and The Master did not; both of these were acclaimed American art films which were dealt a bad hand by the guilds, but it was the former that went on to get Picture and Director nominations at the Oscars. Similarly, The Master was surprisingly snubbed by the American Society of Cinematographers, so in some ways I think that’s the one place where Silence needs to succeed.

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    GusCruz
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    #1201981098

    Apparently PGA and DGA have got them

    Are you 100% sure of that?

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    Eddy Q
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    #1201981100

    Are you 100% sure of that?

    AMPAS, PGA and DGA have screeners of Silence according to the link below. Riley posted it on the official Silence thread.

    http://www.richiesolomon.com/screeners/

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    GusCruz
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    #1201981103

    AMPAS, PGA and DGA have screeners of Silence according to the link below. Riley posted it on the official Silence thread.

    http://www.richiesolomon.com/screeners/%5B/quote%5D

    Now if only we could get the date those were sent…

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    Roney Moore
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    #1201981107

    There will always be an audience in the industry for straightforward war dramas like Hacksaw Ridge.

    Silence was more experimental. It also probably dosesn’t help that the artsy crowd this film is trying to reach and should suppose to play the best with, isn’t very interested in stories about *religion* as others.

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    Andrew Carden
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    #1201981108

    It’s yet another botched Paramount Oscar campaign. If Silence came out a month ago and sent out screeners, it’d be all but a shoo-in for half a dozen or more Oscar nominations. As it stands, it’s fighting tooth and nail at the 11-‘o-clock-hour just to make any appearance.

    For the finest in film reviews and awards analysis, please visit me at The Awards Connection!

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    renyfreeman
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    #1201981115

    It’s all about timing

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    Bee
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    #1201981119

    If this was promoted like The Revenant and came out earlier, then it would have a better chance. But Paramount was weird with Silence and very peculiar with how they dealt with it. They drove behind Fences and Arrival and a bit of Florence more. It would be insane if they got a Best Picture nomination for all four films. At the most, they’ll get two. Lucky if they get three.

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    vinny
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    #1201981137

    Personally, the trailer for “Silence” looks really depressing and a bit like one of those movies where you see the characters go through torture the entire time. That’s why I’m not particularly interested in it.

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    Alex Meyer
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    #1201981145

    Given that some PGA and DGA members are also members of AMPAS, we shouldn’t count it as a failure just yet.

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    Maxwell
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    #1201981165

    As others have said – late release, arthouse hit, no pressing narrative, screener problems. Odds are it will show up at PGA, DGA, BAFTA, and the Oscars.

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