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Poll: Can Mel Gibson win an Oscar for 'The Beaver'?

March 17, 2011 |  2:10 pm

Beaver mel gibson 2Mel Gibson has never won an Oscar for acting. He has two Academy Awards on his mantle -- for directing and producing "Braveheart," best picture of 1995 -- but voters didn't even nominate his performance in that film, "The Patriot" (2000), "Ransom" (1996) or any others.

Now Mel Gibson is getting great reviews at SXSW for portraying a psychologically tortured man in "The Beaver," despite its somewhat preposterous premise (the guy communicates by using a beaver hand puppet like a ventriloquist) and his own troubled personal life haunted by tabloid scandals.

The Hollywood Reporter assures moviegoers that "The Beaver" "turns a crazy-sounding premise into something moving and sane." Slashfilm says it's Gibson at "his best" in "The Beaver," giving "a great performance." IndieWire adds, "Gibson demonstrates a staunch commitment to his role as an emotionally damaged man driven to excise his troubles by speaking through the titular hand puppet, but the subdued tone brings him down to earth."

It's not outrageous to believe that Oscar voters could turn a great performance by Gibson into an opportunity to reward a onetime bad boy. They gave a chunk of academy gold to fugitive Roman Polanski for helming "The Pianist" (2002). In contrast, they apparently have a love 'em or leave 'em approach to Russell Crowe, who has long cultivated a bad-boy image (famously attacking a Manhattan hotel clerk and a British producer). Three years after winning for "Gladiator" (2000) and being nominated for 2001's "A Beautiful Mind," Crowe wasn't even nominated for 2003's "Master and Commander," which had 10 bids, including one for best picture. It looked like the academy was eager to hail everybody associated with that film except its own master and commander.

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Summit Entertainment