See Bradley Cooper Play a Reluctant Hero in New 'American Sniper' Clip (Exclusive)

In Clint Eastwood's war film, which will open on Christmas Day, Cooper's Chris Kyle, a heroic serviceman in Iraq, is approached by a comrade while back stateside

American Sniper is not off to the sort of start that Warner Bros. wanted for its principal Oscar hopeful this season — after landing a spot on the AFI's year-end top 10 list, it was completely excluded from the SAG and Golden Globe nominations and recognized only in the action movie categories of the Critics' Choice noms — but Oscar nomination voting doesn't begin until Dec. 29, and there is still time for Academy members to catch up with and/or come around on Clint Eastwood's drama about the deadliest American sniper of the Iraq War, Chris Kyle, who is played in the film by Bradley Cooper.

I think they might.

Read AFI Fest: Oscar Race Gets Adrenaline Shot From 'Selma,' 'American Sniper' Premieres 

The film has a number of things going for it. It is based on the true story of an American military hero who made great sacrifices for his country (not unlike Unbroken, another big contender that's still trying to find its legs. It revolves around a great performance from a guy who couldn't be much hotter with the Academy (Cooper landed an acting nom in each of the last two years for performances in films that he didn't also produce and that didn't require a total transformation — physical, vocal, etc. — as this one did). And it comes from one of Hollywood's most revered living filmmakers (Eastwood, at 84, could become the oldest best director Oscar nominee in history — by five years).

Read Clint Eastwood: "I Was Against Going Into the War in Iraq"

In the clip from the film at the top of this post, which The Hollywood Reporter is pleased to premiere, Cooper's Kyle, back in the U.S. from one of his four tours of duty in Iraq, is visiting with his young son when a fellow serviceman approaches him to thank him for saving his life. The way that the serviceman speaks of Kyle and the way that Kyle responds offer some insight into the impact of Kyle's overseas service on others — and the profound impact that his overseas had on his own psyche, like that of many of his comrades, upon his return stateside.

Read Bradley Cooper on How He Brought 'American Sniper' to the Screen and 'The Elephant Man' to Broadway

American Sniper opens nationwide on Christmas Day.

Twitter: @ScottFeinberg

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