UPDATE: Cinematical has been given this brand new still from the film, which shows Cruise without the eye patch.
MGM seems to be trying to reverse the effects of the doomsaying that circulated about Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer's Hitler-assassination-attempt thriller Valkyrie in the spring, culminating in the announcement that the movie was moving from December 2008 to President's Day 2009. That was received as a surrender, a sure sign that the studio had no confidence in the film and was doing damage control by moving it out of harm's way. Now, following some successful test screenings, MGM has reversed itself and is moving Valkyrie back into the heart of Oscar season: December 26, 2008. Apparently, though, the studio still doesn't think it has awards potential, and is making the move because it thinks Valkyrie will do well in the Christmastime marketplace.
I'm sure positive test screenings did have a lot to do with MGM's decision, but I think it's a smart move because it's great spin control. The press loves to read the tea leaves of studio behavior, and will see this as a major vote of confidence. I suspect the buzz on Valkyrie will seriously improve now that it is no longer the subject of what was perceived as a February dump.
For my part, I don't care about Tom Cruise or his silly eyepatch, but I have a lot of trust in Bryan Singer. The man can make a good mainstream thriller, and I don't see why Valkyrie should be any exception. I think a lot of the "bad buzz" (such as Roger Friedman randomly attacking the film) is just Cruise-bashing, which may be justified but probably shouldn't extend to his movies.