This fall has seen just about every anticipated drama shift their release date away from awards season -- as Eric Snider reported a few days ago, The Soloist, Defiance, The Road, and Hurricane Season are all being shoved back into 2009. All were possible contenders for Oscar nominations, and while The Road and Defiance could still make the cut, it seems unlikely we'll be taking bets on Viggo Mortensen vs Daniel Craig this year.
But there's one man who might just quietly sweep the Oscars away from all comers -- Clint Eastwood. According to THR's Risky Biz Blog, Warner Bros has finally set a date for Eastwood's Gran Torino, which he's finishing up as we speak. It's opening December 17th in limited release, branching out after New Year's, suggesting the studio might be targeting a gold statue.
Gran Torino has been kept under tight wraps until yesterday, when USA Today gave us our first look (see first image above and first poster over here). It's a similar, low-key story to Eastwood's Best Picture winner Million Dollar Baby, and in it Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a racist Korean War veteran who has two prized possessions: an M-1 rifle and a Ford Gran Torino. A teenage Korean immigrant tries to steal the car, and finds himself on the opposite end of the M-1. The two strike up an uncomfortable relationship, with Kowalski trying to get rid of him by teaching the boy a few life lessons.
Eastwood had Oscar gold both times he starred in his directorial efforts, so that puts the odds even more in his favor. Plus he does have a one-two punch with Changeling which, despite mixed reviews, probably won't go unnoticed -- especially when the dramatic playing field has been so decimated. It's not as though he doesn't have buzzed-about contenders like The Wrestler, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Revolutionary Road. But Eastwood's popularity and status alone could make it an easy sweep ... and who knows what fall films could still get shoved into 2009?
Plus, there's that glare. You can't mess with Eastwood when he has that killing glint in his eye. It's enough to make me want to give him all the Oscars right now, even the ones he couldn't possibly be nominated for, like Best Animated Short.