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Eastwood’s “J. Edgar” and “Extremely Loud” land new release dates – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell A few films with Oscar potential are positioning themselves on the awards calendar as we start to shake off the summer heat and settle in for what’s shaping up to be a promising awards season run.

Let’s start with Clint Eastwood, who annually hears his name in the awards discussion as pundits wait to see what the prolific director has up his sleeve. This year, Eastwood is collaborating for the first time with Leonardo DiCaprio to tell the story of FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover.

Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for penning “Milk,” reportedly has produced a screenplay that will focus on Hoover’s closeted homosexual life and rumored private life as a cross dresser. DiCaprio plays the lead, though he’ll be joined by Armie Hammer, Josh Lucas, Lea Thompson, Judi Dench and Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy, Hoover’s closest assistant who reportedly put the word “secret” in secretary.

While many were expecting an October release for Eastwood’s biopic, Warner recently announced a Nov. 9 limited release date, with the picture expanding wide on Nov. 11. It’s unclear yet if Eastwood will bring his finished film to any of the fall film festivals, though with the dates in place, a bow in New York seems possible.

Similarly, the studio has set an official release date for its anticipated adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s Sept. 11-themed novel, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.” The film lands on awards tracker’s radars for so many reasons, starting with the dream team casting of Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. Add in the presence of producer Scott Rudin and perennially nominated director Stephen Daldry (“The Hours,” “The Reader”) and you have a title that, on the surface, seems like a slam dunk in terms of awards potential.

We’ll know more when the film opens on Dec. 25. Warner also says “Close” will expand on Jan. 20, 2012.

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