The year-end awards race is quickly snapping into place as more materials become available for films such as "The Monuments Men." Directed by George Clooney, who wrote the script along with frequent collaborator Grant Heslov, adapting the book of the same name, the film is a fact-based tale of a special unit formed during World War II to save rare antiques, art and architecture from destruction.
The film stars Clooney as the man tasked with pulling together and training the team of curators and historians and molding them into something like a fighting force. The assembled team also includes Matt Damon, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin and Bob Balaban, with a female part in the story somewhere for Cate Blanchett.
The trailer gives the film a breezy feeling, somewhere between "Argo" and "Inglourious Basterds," with just a touch of the "Ocean's" pictures. The diminutive Balaban gets one of the trailer's biggest laughs with, "So we get to shoot some Nazis?" Those who like their men-on-a-mission movies of a slightly older vintage may be reminded of films such as "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Guns of Navarone."
"Monuments Men" opens Dec. 18, a date that signals both commercial confidence and awards ambitions. If anything, one of the major challenges for the film may be managing expectations for its awards potential.