Will 'underdog' American Sniper win another Oscar for Clint Eastwood?

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times, Chennai
  • Updated: Feb 04, 2015 16:46 IST

Clint Eastwood’s drama, American Sniper, set in terror-infested Iraq, has earned a stellar $247 million till now. It has now become the highest grossing war film beating Saving Private Ryan, which made $216 million.

Oscar nominated American Sniper is also seen as one of the most politicised movies, and Clint Eastwood may well clinch yet another Academy Award on February 22, when the prizes will pop out of the white envelopes in Los Angeles’ Kodak Theatre.

Eastwood’s score has been impressive till now. Seven nods and five actual wins: Two for outstanding direction, two for best picture and one Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

The 84-year-old director is on a lovely roll, and given the mood in the US, his American Sniper may well garner an Oscar or two. The film is inspired by the book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History, penned by Chris Kyle along with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. With 160 kills confirmed by the Department of Defence, Kyle is the deadliest sharpshooter the US has ever known.

Bradley Cooper plays Kyle in the film, and Sienna Miller his wife Taya. And American Sniper has been viewed as a Western, at least of sorts, a genre that Eastwood was once famous for.

Whatever it is, the fact is that the American public – including the whopping number of voting members in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – are still exercised over Iraq. This can translate into a big attraction for American Sniper.

We saw this happen in the case of Kathrine Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker about a bomb disposal squad during the war in Iraq. It won six Oscars including those for the Best Picture and Best Director. Bigelow was the first woman helmer to have got this.

As bright as the Eastwood adventure might seem in the Academy’s ballot, some fears have been expressed. What can be so desirable about a marksman whose passion has been killing? True, he might have done that for his patriotic love. In a moving scene, when Taya asks Kyle not to go back to Iraq because she needs him, the family needs him, he calmly retorts that he is doing this for his country!

After all, what can be so patriotic about a killer, what can be so pro-family about him? Has the ugly now become the good? Is killing the only answer to check terror?

Whatever that be, American Sniper is certainly not as engaging as The Hurt Locker. It is not as punchy as Bigelow’s creation, and there was something very human about its characters. In contrast, Kyle appears cold and calculating, and does not even flinch when he shoots dead women or children.

But the Academy might overlook all these, obsessed as it is with terror and Iraq, and a man like Eastwood knows how to play to the galleries at the Academy.

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