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Oscar night puts Mel Gibson back in the spotlight

Oscar night puts Mel Gibson back in the spotlight
Mel Gibson and Rosalind Ross on the red carpet. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

The road back into the good graces of Hollywood has been treacherous for Mel Gibson, but the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday seemed to smooth and accelerate the journey significantly.

It's been 10 years since a public fall from grace that included a DUI arrest during which Gibson lobbed anti-Semitic and sexist language at a sheriff's deputy. In a separate incident later, an audiotape revealed him saying a racial epithet and making physical threats against his then-girlfriend.

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Sunday's Oscars made it seem as though that all may soon be forgiven.

Gibson's film "Hacksaw Ridge" took home two Oscars — for film editing and sound mixing — and winners John Gilbert and Kevin O'Connell both made it clear that their awards weren't possible without the director.

Gibson also found himself with prime position in the auditorium with the camera often finding him for reaction shots, as though he were just another beloved actor like Jeff Bridges or Meryl Streep.

But reception wasn't all rosy for Gibson, who found himself serving as the punchline to several of host Jimmy Kimmel's jokes. Gibson rolled with the punches, but the audience seemed unsure of how to respond to the quips. Some were met with boos and awkward silence.

Even if the audience wasn't sure how to handle the return of Gibson, he seemed perfectly comfortable.

The Oscar-winning director of "Braveheart" did red carpet interviews with girlfriend Rosalind Ross by his side. (She gave birth to Gibson's ninth child five weeks ago.) Through it all, Gibson was clearly at ease being back in the spotlight that spurned him for so long.

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