“Once upon a time, the Oscars were THE awards show,” recalls critic Marshall Fine. “Literally. The Emmy Awards and the Oscars were the only awards shows that were broadcast — those and the Miss America Pageant. They were events. They carried weight. They meant something, or at least we thought they did.

“Now Miss America is crowned on basic cable, the Emmys give out so many awards that I’m surprised I don’t have one, and the Oscars seem to come so late that I don’t even care about those movies anymore.

“Seriously: Inglourious Basterds came out last August. The Hurt Locker was released in June (though it had been kicking around at festivals since the previous September). And I saw and wrote my review of Avatar more than three months ago, [and] everyone in America has now seen it twice. Sorry, but I’ve moved on.

“By coming last, the Oscars are now victims of awards fatigue: the National Board of Review, the SAGs, the DGA, the Writers Guild, the Producers Guild, the Golden Globes – and of course, the endless awards from various critic groups around the nation. (I vote in two different New York groups, including the granddaddy of all of them, the New York Film Critics Circle).

“And you expect me to still get excited by the Oscars? It’s March and we’re still talking about last year’s movies?

“If they want to pump up the excitement that’s been missing from Oscar in recent years, the solution isn’t inflating the Best Picture category — it’s getting an earlier start. Find a way to streamline the process. Announce the Oscar nominations on Jan. 2 and give them out on Feb. 1, perhaps in a Super Bowl pre-game show.”