Oscar Watch: American Sniper

Another picture that premiered during this week’s AFI Film Festival is garnering some Oscar chatter, though not to the extent of the MLK biopic Selma, which I wrote about yesterday.

That would be Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which tells the true life story of Chris Kile, who’s said to have over 300 kills in his military service. The central character is played by Bradley Cooper and he’s managed Oscar nominations the past two years (for Actor in 2012 with Silver Linings Playbook and Supporting Actor in 2013 with American Hustle).

For Cooper, pulling off the trifecta could be an uphill battle. He is receiving rave reviews for his work here, but the Best Actor race is incredibly crowded. Five performances – Michael Keaton (Birdman), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), David Oyelowo (Selma), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), all seem likely for recognition. That leaves room for no one else. Still, if one of them were to be left out, Cooper is a wise substitute pick.

The only other actor in the film with any chance would be Sienna Miller, who plays Kile’s wife in the Supporting Actress race. She, too, may be on the outside looking in and it’s somewhat difficult to see her inclusion if Cooper isn’t recognized.

Some reviews out of AFI have been quite positive while others are more mixed. I don’t see Eastwood picking up a Director nod. Strangely enough, American Sniper could be a movie that is recognized only in the Best Picture category. That may depend a lot on its box office grosses, which could be substantial (Lone Survivor is a recent similar genre title that did very well).

For now, I’ll predict Sniper doesn’t make the cut – though that is certainly subject to change as the race takes shape over the next two months.


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