Will 'American Sniper's' Box Office Records Help Sway Oscar Voters?

by Raphael Chestang 6:25 PM PST, January 19, 2015
Playing Will 'American Sniper's' Box Office Records Help Sway Oscar Voters?

American Sniper exceeded expectations, raking in more than $100 million at the box office over the four-day weekend. The film was shut out at the Golden Globes, so ET looked at whether the strong opening weekend could give the film a big Oscar boost.

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"I wish that were the case, but I wouldn't put money on it," Piers Morgan told ET's Nancy O'Dell. "A lot of the Academy are going through a crisis of trying to work out what this movie is. Is it bad that this guy's a sniper? What does he do? He kills people. Can we really honor people that kill people."

The movie follows real-life Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle's life on and off the battlefield. Kyle is considered one of the deadliest snipers 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 (Bradley Cooper).

"This controversy about the sniper loving his kill is not going to take down this movie,"'s Tom O'Neil told ET. "This was his job. He was doing it for America."

Cooper plays Kyle in the movie and he told us that Kyle avoided the adulation placed on him for his service.

"He wasn't comfortable with the idea of being called a legend because he started racking up so many kills," Cooper told ET.

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While voters may be torn about honoring Kyle, Cooper's work to portray the character is undeniable.

"It's a great portrayal," Morgan said. "Physically he puts himself into this man's body. He bulked up tremendously for it. He learned the way he spoke perfectly -- so perfectly even Kyle's own widow [Taya] said it was like listening to her husband."

Some of the celebrities who at first seemed to be criticizing the movie have since backtracked.

Michael Moore, who tweeted about his family's own military background and personal experiences with snipers, wrote a long response to his critics on his Facebook page, clarifying that his tweets were intended to only be about snipers, and taken out of context to be made into criticisms of American Sniper.

"I didn't say a word about American Sniper in my tweets," said Moore, who then offered up his opinion on Clint Eastwood's film.

"Awesome performance from Bradley Cooper," he wrote. "One of the best of the year. Great editing. Costumes, hair, makeup superb!...Also, best movie trailer and TV ads of the year."

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Seth Rogen also clarified early tweets, in which he seemed to compare American Sniper to the Nazi sniper propaganda film shown within Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, after facing backlash from critics who took his comments out of context.

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

The 87th Academy Awards air live Sunday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT on ABC.