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'sRisky 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.