By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood August 27, 2013 at 2:02PM
One Oscar trend this year is possible contenders opting out of the usual awards shuffle that can last for months. Three Cannes entries are skipping Toronto ("All Is Lost," "Inside Llewyn Davis," and "Nebraska") in favor of low-key Telluride. And another one-time awards entry is ditching the festival route altogether: George Clooney's European World War II movie "The Monuments Men."
While many Oscar pundits are picking up the message (or spin) that the movie is more commercial than awards-worthy, Clooney has decided that he wants to follow the high road taken by Martin Scorsese with "The Departed." He was tired of the awards slog that he had gone through on "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" and decided to sit that one out. The movie won four Oscars including picture and director. Clooney should be so lucky.
While the producer-actor-director doesn't mind schmoozing, he dislikes sitting down for multiple interviews, and would rather launch a commercial picture and let the chips fall where they may. (Sony could use a hit, too.) It's a smart strategy. No pretension, no hopes on sleeve. Let the critics and audiences tell you what you have. This movie is high-profile enough to be a must-see in any case. No need for extra tub-thumping.
But don't count Clooney out of the Oscar race altogether. He harbors hopes. He's just keeping them under wraps for now. "The Monuments Men," which centers on a small World War II platoon tasked with protecting and retrieving invaluable art stolen by the Nazis, stars a stellar cast of Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Clooney himself.
Clooney was last in the director's seat for 2011's "The Ides of March," which nabbed an Adapted Screenplay nomination for Clooney, Heslov and Beau Willimon ("House of Cards"). Clooney also received a Best Picture Oscar for producing last year's "Argo," shared with Heslov and Ben Affleck, as well as a Supporting Actor Oscar for 2005's "Syriana."
The first trailer and stills from the film are here; the Fox 2000/Smokehouse production hits theaters December 18. Sony is releasing stateside.