Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” scored three Academy Award nominations when the list of nominees was announced Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.

The controversial but lucrative film earned nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Makeup.

The Passion,” which grossed roughly $370 million at the domestic box-office, sparked much debate in the religious community, especially over its depiction of Jews and their role in Jesus’ crucifixion.

The film was shot by Caleb Deschanel, who also worked with Gibson on “The Patriot,” a 2000 Revolutionary War film that, like “Passion,” featured strong violence.

In the cinematography category, “The Passion” is up against “House of Flying Daggers,” “A Very Long Engagement,” “The Phantom of the Opera” and Martin Scorsese’s biopic of Howard Hughes, “The Aviator.”

John Debney, a hard-working Hollywood composer, earned his first Oscar nomination for his original score for “The Passion.” Other movies nominated for Best Orignal Score are “Finding Neverland,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “The Village.”

Debney’s score topped the soundtrack charts during the movie’s first three weeks of release in February and March 2004, according to Nielsen SoundScan in a Reuters article.

“The Passion” will also receive competition from “Lemony Snicket” in the Best Makeup category, where the only other nominee is “The Sea Inside,” a Spanish film about a man’s real-life struggle to win the right to die.

This year’s Oscar nominees are heavily populated by real-life stories.

In addition to “The Passion,” Academy voters went for “The Sea Inside” (about Ramon Sampedro), “The Aviator” (Howard Hughes), “Ray” (Ray Charles), “Finding Neverland” (J.M. Barrie), and “Hotel Rwanda” (Paul Rusesabagina).

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for

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