Lock and load. For years I’ve been covering the Oscar race and when Clint Eastwood is in shoot-em-up mode he mostly can’t be stopped when it comes to the Oscar race. We were huge supporters of Eastwood’s Mystic River, which is, to my mind, among his best films. But I’ve long been a fan of the man’s work, even Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima were my two favorites. Eastwood’s image took a bit of a hit when Obama was running for re-election. He came out in force against the President by talking to an empty chair. It didn’t go over too well. But the one thing Clint Eastwood is and will always be is a beloved icon within the Academy. They worship the man when he makes the kinds of films they like. Not so much when he does movies like Invictus or J. Edgar. American Sniper just made around $100 mil for its opening weekend, not surprising to me but apparently surprising to everyone who covers box office. The film could do more than $200 million.
The funny thing about Hollywood is that they tend to cater to reliable demographics, like the young boys who never really grow up to be men. They are a guaranteed demographic. This year they’ve seen what happens when you explore other demos, like the religious people out there, or the women, or the young women and now, with Sniper, you’re really seeing the silent majority speaking with their wallets. These are the many men who populate this country who aren’t really movie goers at all because they only pay to see movies with car crashes and lots of dead people. Sniper has it all – prestige, war hero, shooting people and the chance for Americans to feel like Americans, for better or worse.
Expect to see many more just like this one in the coming years. Money doesn’t talk, it swears.
How will Sniper do at the Oscars? Very well. Had Eastwood gotten a Best Director nomination, Sniper would be on target to upset Boyhood in a big big way. Eastwood would win his third Oscar, joining the ranks of the only three directors in Academy history to win more than two – William Wyler, Frank Capra (each with three) and John Ford (with four). Eastwood could have done that this year but the directors said no.
Remember, though, Eastwood could still win the DGA if this Sniper thing gets bigger than expected, and he could Affleck the thing all the way home. You could be looking at a potential split possibly with Sniper winning Best Picture and Linklater winning Best Director. It looked like the split could have happened with Birdman but with Sniper’s surge at the box office, the public support and the love for Eastwood in his 80s, watch out.
As it is, I expect Sniper to easily take both sound categories and editing. It could also take Adapted Screenplay (which rightly belongs to Gillian Flynn, those fuckers) and Best Actor from Michael Keaton. Sniper is not only beloved but it’s beloved by the white steak eaters – they dominate the Academy.
Sniper’s surge is going to turn this Oscar season into a bloodbath. Best Actor, for instance, has so many strong competitors in it — the British ones could be hurt by the chatter of late. Keaton deserves to win but I can’t put anything past the Academy at this point.
Stay frosty, Oscar watchers. This race just became very unpredictable. Oh and remember how everyone said no one was going to watch the Oscars because none of the movies made any money? Now, every gun toting war monger in the country could be watching. The eagle has landed.