The 79th Annual Academy Awards will happen a bit earlier next year — on Sunday, 2.25.07. Nomination polls will close on 1.13.07 with the nominations set to be announced ten days later — Tuesday, 1.23.07. Final ballots will be mailed a week later (1.31.07) and final polls will close at the end of the day on Tuesday, 2.20.07. It’s been suggested that these earlier dates may make it appear as if the Broadcast Film Critics Association and their Critics’ Choice Awards are influencing things a bit more than their nearest competititors, the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Golden Globes. It’s obvious that the BFCA is as much into ass-kissing and whoring itself out as the HFPA, but the former apparently has hunkies on the first weekend (or the first workable Monday) after the New Year’s holiday weekend, which means the HFPA has to choose between Sunday, 1.14 or Sunday, 1.21, to stage the Golden Globes. Either way the HPGA won’t appear to be exerting much in the way of Oscar influencing, it’s being argued, because 1.14 is one day after Oscar polling closes, and 1.21 is just two days before Oscar nominations. But c’mon…take two steps back and smell the Starbuck’s. Many people feel that the Academy pretty much wiped Oscar off the map as the statuette with the Biggest and Classiest Pedigree…as any kind of vaguely legitimate barometer of serious cinematic distinction when it gave the Best Picture Oscar to Crash. So if you ask me the whole “Oscar, Oscar, Oscar” hoo-hah will be somewhat less important this year as a result, and it may keep going that way. The Globes are the Globes, the BFCA’s are the BFCA’s, the critics are the critics…everything is everything, baby. The Oscar Award show is on the ropes and closer than ever to irrelevance, and if you ask me nothing can be done to save it until the Academy fires producer Gil Cates.