Will controversy around 'American Sniper' affect its Oscar chances?

This year's Academy Awards race for Best Picture is stiff competition, but this week all the movie aficionados have been buzzing about the controversy surrounding "American Sniper," a true story about former Navy Seal Chris Kyle, dubbed the most lethal snipers in U.S. military history.

Celebs like Michael Moore and Seth Rogen have spoken out against the military flick, labeling it "propaganda" and calling snipers "cowards." There has also been what seems to be an equal amount of support and praise from people like actor Dean Cain, country crooner Blake Shelton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who have all fired back.

With six Oscar nominations, has the film's chances of bringing home an Academy Award on Feb 22. been boosted by the attention it's been receiving?

Steve Pond, Awards Editor at entertainment site TheWrap.com, said Academy voters may be swayed by headlines but their vote more likely depends on which side of the criticism they side.

"If Academy members are passing around articles that are critical of Chris Kyle, which I know some of them are, it has the potential to make some of them a little less likely to vote for the film," he told FOX411. "But it also could make those who feel the criticisms are unfair to support it even more strongly."

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    Tim Gray, Senior Awards Editor at Variety, said accusations against fact-based films happen every year and don’t often negatively effect the outcome, citing Best Picture winners "A Beautiful Mind," "The King's Speech" and "12 Years A Slave" as examples. In 2013, "Zero Dark Thirty" came under fire with accusations that the filmmakers betrayed classified information but the movie still took home Best Picture with Jessica Chastain accepting the award for Best Actress.

    "The mark of a good piece of art is when people can have different interpretations," Gray said. "So I think it's entirely possible that people on the right and the left will both vote for it. The popularity of 'American Sniper' is an indication that a lot of people like it, and that includes red states, blue states and Oscar voters. If anything, I think people in Hollywood are encouraged -- after the box office dropped in 2014 -- that a January movie can make this money."

    Grey is referring to the $107.2 million the movie brought in during its opening weekend, making "American Sniper" the biggest January box office opening of all time --- something Pond says is not enough on its own to guarantee an Oscar win.

    "Oscar voters like a winner, but that can mean going for the little movie that is beating the big movie at all the guild awards," Grey explained. "For example 'The Hurt Locker' over 'Avatar' in 2010, rather than automatically going for the biggest moneymaker."

    If the controversy won’t directly hurt the film’s Oscar chances, does that mean it will help it? Not exactly, says Pond, who says it’s important to first look at the movie’s chances of winning in spite of the attention surrounding it, and “Sniper” by many people’s predictions is not favored. The fact that the film was nominated for “Best Picture” without a “Best Director” nod to Clint Eastwood makes it an unlikely winner, he says. For “Best Actor,” Bradley Cooper is up against stiff competition -- Michael Keaton for "Birdman" and Eddie Redmayne for "The Theory of Everything," so he already has a tough fight.

    "If it doesn't win many Oscars, the controversy most likely won't have a thing to do with it," he said.

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