In his first “Notes on a Season” column for the L.A. Times/Envelope, Pete Hammond says that “the big question some are asking is whether 2009, a slow starter for Oscar-level quality pictures with as many as 30% fewer releases coming in the final months, is turning out to be the right year for launching the ten (as opposed to five) Best Picture nominees rule. One leading marketer says, ‘I love the idea, just not this year.’

“Another person very close to the process and a supporter of the change is still nervously eyeing the contenders, saying The Hurt Locker is so far the only certain nominee at the eight-month mark. Others would probably add Disney/Pixar’s Up to that assessment, but the spotty track record of animation in the Best Picture race adds some lingering questions as to whether Up can prevail — even with five extra slots to play with.

“So what we’ve got so far is a Summit Releasing arthouse Iraq war movie and an Ed Asner ‘toon. Hmmm. Time to get to work, Oscar Gods.”

HE note: I’m not disputing the existence of the Oscar Gods, but it it my contention that the Movie Gods occupy a higher station in the celestial realm.