Awards Won: Best Sound Editing

Clint Eastwood is very divisive as a director. The consensus on most of his work is pretty split, with most critics unsure if he’s our greatest director of the tragedy of masculinity and violence, or if he simply revels in it unironically. To some critics, American Sniper is one of his more successful interrogations of masculinity, specifically with regard to the American military. But while it’s technically impressive, it quite often feels like it’s less of a critique and more like an imperialist fairy tale. 

The movie follows real life sniper Chris Kyle (played by Bradley Cooper) as he becomes the deadliest marksman in military history during the Iraq War, and the toll this takes on his personal life. Ostensibly a critique of war, the movie portrays wartime violence as simply necessary, and its victims as irrelevant—every Iraqi killed in the movie is nameless, faceless enemy fodder. The movie also fails to properly investigate PTSD on a meaningful level; we barely get to process Kyle’s own trauma, and then the story glosses over how Kyle was killed (after returning home, he was murdered by another vet suffering from PTSD). 

American Sniper simplifies a complex mess of a war into a black and white horror that our American hero must come to terms with, much like many other Hollywood movies about the Iraq War.