The New York Film Critics Circle has decided to junk last year’s 11.28 early-vote strategy (which caused too many problems) and will vote instead on Monday, December 3rd. Which means, presumably, that the all-but-worthless National Board of Review voting will now be announced before the NYFCC and Los Angeles Film Critic Association voting. Right?

The name of the game right now, presumably, is “stop Les Miserables” — that is the challenge that critics of vision and presumed backbone will have on their plates six weeks from now. Last year’s challenge was “stop The Artist.” I got down on my knees and begged them not to give it their Best Picture prize, and to their eternal discredit they ignored me. But I’m getting ahead of things.

I obviously haven’t seen Les Miserables, and it may well deserve to win at the end of the day. But you know what I mean. Everything else is getting marginally discredited for this and that reason and nothing else seems to “fit” the paradigm, and I’m starting to feel already that the fix is in. Obviously I don’t mean that in a Chicago Black Sox sense. I mean that people want a certain type of classy, carefully poised but lowest-common-denominator emotional-bath film to win, and guys like Tony Angelotti know that and it seems as if the scheme is slowly falling into place and it’s not even Halloween yet.

An Oscar prognosticator generally agrees but says that “the only thing that Les Miserables seems to lack is the cool factor.” Les Miz is classic material, he means, that doesn’t seem to offering anything especially new that might synch with or provide commentary on the present-day zeitgeist. That’s an assumption, of course, and therefore a long spitball.

The 12.1 to 12.3 voting will give distributors of December openers like Les Miserables, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty two or three more days of fine tuning…big deal.

This morning NYFCC chairman Joshua Rothkopf told Deadline‘s Michael Fleming that “our function as a group is to be as best informed as we can be, and we wanted to make sure we had every opportunity to see everything under consideration for the best in film. This is not as Machiavellian as people might think, but in order to fulfill that function to be as fully informed as possible, I made this decision and the group agreed with me.”

All hail Silver Linings Playbook — a modest movie in one sense but one that really and truly works (despite what the crabheads are saying), and in a way that gives a hug to blue-collar American family values and football fanaticism and Sunday dinners and all that extended-family stuff that I don’t even relate to or believe in. The point is that SLP believes in this stuff, and in healthy turnarounds and good music and throwing away old baggage and running and getting lucky with the right girl and hugs and happiness at the end.