If you haven’t noticed, I’m a little late on getting this article done. And in the true modern fashion of not taking the blame myself, I am going to blame someone else for my tardiness… Hollywood.

You see, this time of year isn’t just busy for us critics because we have oodles of Christmas shopping to do. We also spend an even greater chunk of our days seeing movies, either in theaters and screening rooms or on our couches watching DVDs.

December is an intensely busy month for film writers. Not only are we scrambling to see all the major releases before they drop – like this week’s The Day the Earth Stood Still as well as the slate of no less than five movies schedule to open on Christmas Day – but we’re also seeing all the films out there pegged for award consideration.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a major critics organization, the studios might be nice enough to send you a private screener disc of movies like Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler or Che before they open in theaters. It does help, considering that some of these films may not even open in our local markets before the middle of January.

But can’t they start sending us screeners a little early? It’s busy enough with Christmas coming and the aforementioned wide releases. Is it really necessary for us to get a screener of a well-publicized award film just a week or two before we need to start putting in our nominations.

As it stands now, I currently have 28 different DVDs of award films that various studios have sent me. That’s about 50 or 60 hours of movies to get through in the next two weeks before the nomination window opens… in addition to the other seven mainstream movies I have to see in the next week.

What the free screener?

Can’t they start dolling these out in September? After all, it would have been much easier fitting all these films in while Bangkok Dangerous was the only movie opening wide.

What makes things worse is that in addition to these free screeners, we are also sent booklets and press releases loaded with quotes from other reviewers. Apparently there are plenty of other critics who got to see films like Frost/Nixon and Revolutionary Road months ago in order to meet the print schedule for these materials.

Listen Hollywood… I appreciate getting to see these films in press screenings and on DVD. But can’t you start sending them a little earlier?… like August?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some movies to watch.

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