Ladies and gentlemen, it’s officially Oscar season, and, as usual, it looks like George Clooney is going to have a starring role at the awards. Not only does Clooney co-star in Gravity, which opened last week and seems destined for a Best Picture nomination, but he is also making a late entry into the Oscar race as the star, co-writer, and director of The Monuments Men.

The first trailer for The Monuments Men, which follows a special military group tasked with retrieving stolen artwork during World War II,  came out a couple of months ago and positioned the movie as a sort-of WWII version of Ocean’s Eleven, emphasizing its adventure and humor.

The newest trailer for the movie shifts gears a little bit, showing the more serious side of the film and it’s underlying message: that the mission was about more than protecting art, but preserving our very culture.

In addition to trading well-timed quips for more emotionally resonant scenes, the trailer also introduces more of the characters and their specific expertise. We learn that Bill Murray is an architect, John Goodman is a sculptor, and Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin is a director of design from a fine arts college.

The trailer also prominently features Cate Blanchett, who plays Rose Valland, a French art historian and leader of the French Resistance who helped the platoon trace the stolen artwork.

The movie is based on the book, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter, and has all of the pieces to make it an Oscar contender. Like last year’s Best Picture winner Argo, it’s based on a stranger-than-fiction true story. It boasts a strong ensemble cast anchored by several award winners and nominees. Last but not least, it’s about the importance of art (and there’s nothing Hollywood likes more than celebrating – or at least paying lip service to – artists).

What do you think of this new trailer? Do you think that Monuments Men will have a chance at the 2013 Oscars?

The Monuments Men will hit theaters at the tail end of award season on December 18, 2013.