In his latest “Notes on a Season” (posted yesterday), The Envelope‘s Pete Hammond reports that Clint Eastwood‘s Gran Torino “was shown to a handful of top critics (okay, exactly three) on the Warner Bros. lot last Thursday afternoon, and consensus is it’s a slam-dunk acting nomination for Clint.”

This has been speculated all along as a potential gold-watch gesture due to the assertion-belief that Gran Torino may be Eastwood’s final performance, but now the idea has a little more meat on its bones. Draw your own inferences from Hammond not passing along “consensus” talk about Gran Torino being Best Picture material.

“Eastwood always lets a very select few on his approved list see his movies first, and in this case it was a highly respected top-tier critic from a major daily newspaper” — the L.A. TimesKenny Turan, one presumes — “a major Hollywood trade paper” — Variety‘s Todd McCarthy, obviously — “and a major consumer entertainment news TV show” — i.e., Entertainment Tonight‘s Leonard Maltin.