Matt-Damon-and-George-Clooney-in-The-Monuments-MenLong touted as a strong contender in the upcoming Oscar race, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men sees the multi-hyphenate returning behind the camera for his fifth film, following 2011’s brilliant The Ides of March.

Clooney has assembled yet another stellar cast, and now the first official images of him alongside that cast has landed online, courtesy of EW and USA Today.

Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men focuses on an unlikely World War II platoon, tasked by FDR with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners. It would be an impossible mission: with the art trapped behind enemy lines, and with the German army under orders to destroy everything as the Reich fell, how could these guys – seven museum directors, curators, and art historians, all more familiar with Michelangelo than the M-1 – possibly hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men, as they were called, found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

Starring alongside Clooney will be Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, and Bob Balaban, making for one of the greatest ensembles you’re sure to see this year.

Clooney is once more directing from a script he co-wrote with frequent collaborator Grant Heslov (Good Night, and Good Luck., The Ides of March), based on the original book by Robert M. Edsel, The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History.

The Monuments Men will be released in the height of the Oscar season, with its US release date set for December 18th, following in the New Year in the UK on 9th January.