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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Is it really Oscar time for Mel Gibson? Or just Oscar hype?

September 22, 2010 | 11:48 am

Mel_gibson Just yesterday I was chiding the Hollywood Reporter for making something of an empty case for Ben Affleck's "The Town" for an Oscar run, but lo and behold, when it comes to wild Oscar hype, nothing can top Deadline's Pete Hammond, who is beating the drum today for (yikes!) Mel Gibson, who Hammond claims could be a player in the best actor Oscar race for his role in "The Beaver."

Of course, "The Beaver" has been such a troubled movie, with rumors of extensive reshoots and script fixes, that it doesn't even have a release date yet, much less even any serious Oscar prospects. But that doesn't stop Hammond from quoting three inside sources, all anonymous, as saying that Gibson's performance in the film is "amazing" and "extraordinary." And who are these absolutely impartial experts who are touting Gibson's performance? Well, they're, ahem, all people who have, as Hammond puts it, a "connection" with the film, which means that they're all probably marketing and PR folks who have a vested interest in creating some positive buzz for the movie.

Since they're anonymous, we have no way of judging their credibility, a point that my colleague James Rainey made in an all-too-timely story in our paper today about how celeb rags like People and Us Weekly now use anonymous quotes from people even when they're saying nice things about movie stars. It seems pretty obvious that these same anonymous sources are using Hammond to do what Washington insiders do all the time--float a trial balloon to see if the stink around Gibson's latest racist and misogynistic outbursts has evaporated at all.  

But the problem Gibson has to overcome is that his recent vile, obscenity-laced tirade wasn't an isolated incident, but something that looks like a pattern, coming several years after his now-legendary anti-Semitic outburst after being arrested in Malibu for drunken driving. People have already made up their minds about Gibson and even a good acting performance--if that's actually what he's done in "The Beaver"--isn't going to wipe away all the bad vibes. It took Hollywood nearly 50 years to forgive Elia Kazan. It might take a little longer for Mel Gibson. So if Hammond is talking Oscar for Mel, he's talking through his hat. 

RECENT AND RELATED: Is "The Town" really an Oscar contender? Or just a really fine thriller?

Photo: Mel Gibson. Credit: Arturo Rodriguez / Associated Press