As the Oscars approach, the question on everyone's mind is whether the much talked about, box office record-breaker American Sniper can take the highest award in the industry.
The action film, based on the late Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's autobiography, is directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Bradley Cooper in the leading role. After shocking critics with a smashing opening weekend, the film continued to post strong numbers for the second weekend in a row and fill movie houses across the country.
Whether the hot seats are due to all the controversy that American Sniper's release has caused or something else entirely, the film has struck a nerve with all sides. Hollywood appears to be divided at this time, with some celebrities such as Michael Moore and Seth Rogen attacking the message, if not Chris Kyle himself, and facing incredible backlash on social media.
However, for those crying foul at the insensitive comments coming loudly from some quarters, let us be reminded that Hollywood also brought Kyle's heroics to the big screen via Warner Bros. Now that the film is finally being shown in theaters and has become the biggest January opening in history with $89.3 million in revenues, while at the same time becoming the best selling war movie ever, the Oscars will prove if Eastwood was able to overcome the obstacles and win it all.
American Sniper has struck a nerve with all those "angry" moviegoers, which happen to be mostly young women, who are probably checking out Bradley Cooper, a favorite with the ladies. Most importantly, a passionate debate on the role of snipers in the U.S. military has ensued.
Some, like Moore, appear to suggest that they see the sharpshooters as killers with no remorse, but in American Sniper is it clear that Kyle struggled with what he was doing, especially after becoming a dad and losing friends to the enemy's own sniper. The topic of supporting the troops has become a hot potato ever since the movie was release and several celebrities, including Dean Cain, Rob Lowe, and Gary Sinise, have come out swinging at Moore and Rogen, who were forced to backtrack -- sort of.
Aside from keeping you on the edge of your seat, the movie also managed to put the audience in the middle of what thousands of American troops that were deployed to Iraq faced, the likes of which haven't really been shared in a recent movie, since the conflict is so new. There are arguments to be made on both sides, those who don't like snipers much and those who say they are necessary to protect the troops, but what those angered at Kyle's criticism argue is that these guys are there following orders and don't deserve to be insulted for doing their job.
As to whether all the controversy can be put aside at the time when the Academy members choose the Best Picture of the year remains to be seen. If American Sniper wins the Oscar, they risk alienating those with which the film didn't sit well, if they award the golden statue to Eastwood and Co. they will be sending the message that their opinion doesn't matter. Not an easy choice, but shouldn't it be about which is the best movie, regardless of outside influences?
"They'd have to change the logic of the entire votership because these red-state, red-bait movies have got to appeal to L.A. and New York — and that's going to be tough," one rival awards campaigner tells the Hollywood Reporter.
"This lefty crowd isn't going to gather around a Navy SEAL best known for killing people."Clint Eastwood is a well respected actor and director, despite making what many saw as a blunder and supporting Mitt Romney's presidential campaign publicly in 2012. The current uncertainty when it comes to terrorism coming from groups like ISIS and North Korea, could also influence the Academy and, after The Interview fiasco, it may be looking forward to sending a message to those who made them look like chickens.
Do you think American Sniper will win the Oscar for Best Picture?
[Image via Warner Bros.]