As I’ve said time and again and again and again, the great thing about the Oscars is not (a) the Oscar award telecast or (b) Oscar nominees or (c) the winners or any other specific aspect, but the overall sweep and impact of awards season itself, and the fact that the Oscars long ago instigated the idea and practice of there being an awards season, and by setting themselves up as the climax of that, by default if not design.

The Oscars are the last big event, but what counts and what matters if that there’s a season (September to mid-February) devoted to exceptional, sometimes edgy or trying-to-be-edgy, above-average, quality-level movies. A cure and an antidote to the winter slumpy doldrums and the summer tentpole crap…glorious! For this alone I’ll be an Oscar devotee for the remainder of my days on this planet.

When did the concept of an awards season (beginning at Telluride/Venice/Toronto and lasting until February) actually kick in? When did the idea of Phase One and Phase Two award-season ads take hold? I called a couple of big-wheel advertising execs who didn’t call back, but my sense is that the acceptance of a five-and-a-half-month-long awards season has been with us since…some time in the late ’80s? The early ’90s? Obviously I need to kick this around but I don’t believe the idea goes back too far. Something to call around about tomorrow. Yes, I know — Monday is a holiday.