EXCLUSIVE: When Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper premiered at the AFI Fest last month, I wrote that I felt it was his finest film in the decade since his 2004 Million Dollar Baby earned him Best Picture and Best pete_hammond_300x100Director Oscars for the second time  (after 1992’s Unforgiven did the same trick). I stand by that now, as the film is about to finally open on Christmas Day. In fact, on my list of the year’s Top 10 films (which will be revealed Monday) it has a prominent place. And I’m not alone. Bradley Cooper who stars as Chris Kyle, the most lethal and successful sniper in American military history, is drumming up lots of support for a possible third acting nomination in a row.

As Deadline reported  Ben Affleck and other actors including Robert DeNiro recently came out strongly for hisAmericanSniper poster performance, and just this Sunday two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda tweeted her reaction after seeing the film: “Just saw American Sniper. Powerful. Another view of Coming Home. Bradley Cooper sensational. Bravo Clint Eastwood.” Of course Coming Home, which showed the aftermath of the Vietnam War from the veterans’ point of view, was responsible for one of those Oscars she won. American Sniper divides its time between Kyle’s sharpshooting in four tours of duty in the Middle East, and his home life with his wife (nicely played by Sienna Miller) and family in Texas.

Watch the featurette above and see the story of the making of this latest achievement from Eastwood, who at 84 shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, Sniper isn’t even his first film of 2014. The underrated musical, Jersey Boys, was just released six months ago.