'American Sniper' Under Fire! Is There an Oscar Whisper Campaign?

by Raphael Chestang 5:48 PM PST, January 20, 2015
Playing 'American Sniper' Under Fire! Is There an Oscar Whisper Campaign?

The controversy surrounding American Sniper continues to rage as the Academy Awards approach. Could there be a whisper campaign against the movie among Oscar voters?

"We've seen whisper campaigns happen in the past," Variety managing editor Ted Johnson said. "I don't doubt that that is occurring in this case. It's just part of the process now. I don't think a lot of people realize that Oscar campaigns are very sophisticated and they get quite partisan."

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Rumors of a whisper campaign come amid controversial tweets from celebrities like Seth Rogen and director Michael Moore.

Moore tweeted about his family's military background on Jan. 18, writing, "My uncle killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren't heroes. And invaders r worse."

He later clarified his comments on Facebook, writing, "I didn't say a word about American Sniper in my tweets ... Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper. One of the best of the year. Great editing. Costumes, hair, makeup superb! ... Also, best movie trailer and TV ads of the year."

Rogen also clarified tweets in which he seemed to compare American Sniper to the fictional Nazi sniper propaganda film show within Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds.

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"I actually liked American Sniper," Rogen tweeted. "It just reminded me of the Tarantino scene. I wasn't comparing the two. Big difference between comparing and reminding."

While those messages may have been misunderstood, there seems to be no confusion about the note an anonymous critic wrote on one of the movie's Los Angeles billboards, scribbling the word "Murder!" across the advertisement.

"When you see that kind of ignorance and hate speech, it shows that they don't understand," The Five co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said. "They haven't seen the film."

The movie follows real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's life on and off the battlefield. Chris is widely considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history and was killed in early 2013 at a Texas shooting range by a former soldier with PTSD, whom he was mentoring. It landed six Oscar nominations, including Best Motion Picture and Best Actor (Cooper).

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Johnson explained the visceral reaction to the film, saying, "This movie has kind of tripped a wire in the public's consciousness of what was the U.S. over there in Iraq for."

For Chris' widow Taya, there's no doubt in her mind that he's an American hero.

"He did it because he wanted to, because it was his job, because it's what he was trained to do, but he never did it for a medal," she told ET. "He never did it for thanks."