A Christmas-time release date usually signifies Oscar dreams for an announced movie project. Just look at the 2012 slate, which crams everything from The Hobbit and Zero Dark Thirty to Django Unchained and Les Miserables into the Christmas frame. Add a prestige director like George Clooney to the mix – directing an ensemble of all-stars – and you can bet that Sony has awards hopes for Monuments Men, which just put its chips down on a valuable piece of 2013 real estate.

BoxOfficeMojo claims that Sony will release Clooney’s next directorial effort on Dec. 20, 2013. At the moment, that’s a crowded weekend. Monuments, providing everything holds, will open opposite Tom Hanks’ Mary Poppins drama Saving Mr. Banks, Fox’s Walking With Dinosaurs, and the senior-circuit comedy Last Vegas. Of course, Peter Jackson’s second Hobbit will still be cleaning up in theaters (having opened on Dec. 13). And Paramount’s Jack Ryan reboot has circled Christmas Day as its intended launch.

Clooney’s movie, from what we know, is a World War II-era thriller about art historians called into Germany near the end of the war to retrieve valuable works that were pilfered by the Nazis. Matt Damon was the latest name floated as part of Clooney’s ensemble, which already includes Daniel Craig, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin.

Clooney’s last directorial effort, The Ides of March, also flirted with Oscar dreams before falling short, though the actor competed for someone else’s film, The Descendants, when it came time for the awards campaigns. Given the fact that Clooney also will be in Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity at some point next year, we have to wonder if a similar situation is starting to brew. Either way, now we know Monuments Men is coming, and we know when. Time to get excited.

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