"The Passion of the Christ" was a box-office bonanza, but as 2004 ends and critics hand out awards, it's nowhere to be found.
Mel Gibson's box-office hit isn't getting much attention in year-end critical acclaim. (Icon)
Mel Gibson's controversial picture about Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion earned roughly $370 million in domestic box-office receipts earlier this year. Its DVD sales broke 4 million copies on its release date alone.
But "The Passion of the Christ" is losing out to other films now that awards season is under way. And not only is it losing out—it appears not to even be in the game.
The Oscars, of course, won't be announced until Jan. 25, but the Golden Globe nominations are in and "The Passion" is out. The $30 million picture starring Jim Caviezel wasn't nominated for either Best Motion Picture Drama or Best Foreign Language Film. Nor did it pick up an acting or directing nomination.
Instead, the Golden Globe nominations, made by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, went to movies like "Sideways," "The Aviator," "Closer," "Finding Neverland" and "Million Dollar Baby." Thus, the international journalists who make up the HFPA didn't care for the film, which features dialogue in Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin.
The Los Angeles Film Critics Association named "Sideways" its best picture of the year, also giving it several other nods for direction (Alexander Payne), script (Payne and Jim Taylor) and supporting actor (Thomas Haden Church) and actress (Virginia Madsen). "The Passion" got nothing.
The New York Film Critics Circle announced its awards Dec. 13, and "Sideways" took top honors for best picture. Best foreign film went to "Bad Education." Again, "The Passion" picked up nothing.
The National Board of Review chose "Finding Neverland" starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet as its best picture. Its best foreign language film award went to "The Sea Inside." Incidentally, the NBR also noted its top 10 films from 2004, and "The Passion" didn't make the cut. Neither did it land on the board's top five foreign language films.
Other award-giving bodies, like the National Society of Film Critics, the Directors Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild, have yet to announce their favorites, but the poor early showing for "The Passion" doesn't bode well.
The movie's page at the Internet Movie Database indicates that it's actually won a few awards, albeit ones most people have never heard of. It picked up an Emma—Ethnic Multicultural Award—for best film in May. It won the Grand Prix at the Golden Knight Film Festival, which is an international festival that moves to different host cities around the world.
"The Passion" was also nominated for best international film at the Irish Film and Television Awards given on Oct. 30. In a humorous turn, perhaps, it lost to "The Return of the King."
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.