Will 'Hurt Locker' Be Hurt By Controversies?

Best picture frontrunner "The Hurt Locker" has been hammered by controversies just days before the Academy Awards, but none of them will likely change Sunday's outcome.

That is because voting closed Tuesday, and most academy members mailed their ballots in earlier. It's also unlikely that academy members are following the charges being lobbed against the film as closely as the media are, said Greg Kilday, film editor for the Hollywood Reporter.

Nevertheless, there are hurt feelings swirling around the Iraq War film.

A lawsuit filed yesterday is the latest controversy to beset the film. On Tuesday, one of the film's producers was banned from attending the Oscars after he sent e-mails promoting his film. Last week, members of the U.S. military complained about the depictions of soldiers in the film.

VIDEO: Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver claims Hurt Locker producers stole his identity for the film.Play
War Hero Sues 'Hurt Locker' Producers

"It's a little bit surprising that most of these controversies are happening at the tail end when they could have taken place at any time in the last six months," Kilday said. "Essentially they are taking place after the polls closed. The votes have already been cast by the time these stories have surfaced in the press."

The film is nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture, best director and best screenplay. Star Jeremy Renner is also nominated for best actor.

Kilday does not forsee much discussion about the controversies at Sunday's show either. Although if "The Hurt Locker" wins the Oscar for best picture, the three producers who go to the podium to accept may mention the fourth, Nicolas Chartier, whose tickets to Sunday's ceremony were rescinded.

VIDEO: Hurt Locker producer asks Oscar voters to vote for his film.Play
'Hurt Locker' Producer Sends E-mails to Oscar Voters

Chartier sent an e-mail to a group of colleagues, including academy members, asking them to choose "The Hurt Locker" for best picture and "not the $500-million film" -- a clear reference to "Avatar."

The message was considered a violation of the academy's ban against creating a negative impression of a rival nominee and the academy took the unprecedented step of banning Chartier.

The academy stopped short of disallowing the film from competing. Should "Hurt Locker" win, Chartier will receive his Oscar at a later date.

Nicolas Chartier's Other E-Mail

Apparently, it was not the first e-mail to get Chartier in hot water. Back in December, an attorney representing Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver, who contends the filmmakers used his identity but cheated him out of "financial participation in the film," sent an e-mail of complaint to Chartier.

Chartier sent back a flippant response, saying he had never heard of Sarver. "Did he just not like the popcorn when he watched the movie? I haven't taken any grossly unfair action against him, I've never heard of him. what negative impact, who's that man? Did I steal his girlfriend? Never heard of him," Chartier wrote.

Sarver is now suing Chartier, the three other producers, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal.

Hans-Dieter Kopal, a spokesman for Summit Entertainment, the sole distributor of the film, said in a statement to ABCNews.com: "The film is a story about heroes depicting a fictional account of what brave men and women do on the battlefield. We have no doubt that Master Sgt. Sarver served his country with honor and commitment risking his life for a greater good, but we distributed the film based on a fictional screenplay written by Mark Boal. We hope for a quick resolution to the claims made by Master Sgt. Sarver."

Boal also responded to Sarver's charges in a Los Angeles Times article.

Screenwriter Mark Boal in Iraq

"I think Sarver is a brave soldier and a good guy," he the Times. "Like a lot of soldiers, he identifies with the film, but the character I wrote is fictional. The film is a work of fiction inspired by many people's stories."

Boal said he talked to 100 soldiers who had more or less similar experiences to Sarver, a U.S. Army bomb disposal expert.

But at a press conference Wednesday in Southfield, Mich., Sarver, who won the bronze star after disarming more IEDs than any single team since the Iraq War began, told reporters that he was "hurt after being cut out of 'The Hurt Locker,' no pun intended."

Sarver told reporters that Boal spent 30 days embedded with him and his explosive ordinance disposal unit and subsequently wrote a Playboy magazine article about him.

He alleged that Boal then adapted the article for the screenplay, creating the main character Sgt. Will James, who is played by Jeremy Renner.

Sarver maintained that he was the real model for Will James. He said the film details more than a dozen of his personal experiences, including placing unexploded bombs under his bed and showering in his uniform.

'Hurt Locker' Draws Controversy

Sarver's nickname, "Blaster One," became the lead character's nickname. And Sarver said he coined the phrase "hurt locker" to describe a psychological place that soldiers go when they've have a bad day or lost someone in their unit.

Boal told the Los Angeles Times that the phrase is "military slang that's in common use." He also said many soldiers he interviewed kept recovered bomb parts.

Sarver's attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, famous for his defense of Dr. Jack "Doctor Death" Kevorkian, filed the multi-million dollar lawsuit in New Jersey.

The suit alleges that "The Hurt Locker" is the "exploitation of a real life honorable, courageous and long-serving member of our country's armed forces, by greedy multi-billion dollar 'entertainment' corporations."

Master Sgt. Jeffrey Sarver at press conference with attorney Geoffrey Fieger in the background

Fieger told ABCNews.com that Sarver wasn't aware that his identity had been appropriated for the film until after the movie was released. "They never approached him before," he said.

Fieger said he and his client waited until after Oscar voting closed to file the lawsuit.

"I don't want anybody to suggest we interfered with the Oscar voting," Fieger said. "We want the film to do well."

Ultimately they filed the suit because, Fieger said, "It became intolerable in terms of the refusal of the studio and Boal to acknowledge the obvious."

The film has also upset some members of the military, who say it misrepresented soldiers as renegades and portrayed combat details inaccurately. But for the most part it's earned praise, including from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Val Clark, a reporter for ABC affiliate WXYZ in Detroit, contributed to this report.