Burt Prelutsky

This is the time of year when the studios send DVDs of their movies to the members of the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild and, in my case, the Writers Guild. It’s not altruism. They’re hoping to garner our votes for the various awards being handed out in the near-future.

In case you haven’t noticed, there is an annual pattern to the release of motion pictures. During the first few months of the year, the studios dump out most of the movies they suspect won’t do very well at the box office and which certainly won’t be competing for Oscars and Golden Globes. During Easter vacation and the summer months, with kids out of school, they start screening animated features and most of the big action movies based on comic books. Once September rolls around, there’s usually a lull until Thanksgiving kicks off the start of the homestretch.

That’s when they finally let loose all those movies they expect will knock the critics on their keesters. These are the movies you see advertised with quotes from the New York Times and the news magazines. Suddenly, every other movie or, as they prefer being called, film, is “an unforgettable work of art,” “a profound, often disturbing, cinematic experience,” “reminiscent of Ingmar Bergman,” “quixotic and intriguing,” “luminescent,” “heartfelt,” “emotionally overwhelming,” “absolutely electric,” “truly inspired,” “galvanizing” and “a once in a lifetime thunderbolt!” The thesaurus gets more use in one month than it gets during the entire rest of the year.

A person could come down with the vapors just from reading the ads.

So far, I’ve seen nine of the movies that will be fighting it out for the various plaques and statuettes over the next couple of months. Among those I haven’t seen are “Doubt,” “Seven Pounds,” “Gran Torino” and “Rachel Getting Married.”

Now, I understand that except, perhaps, for food, there is probably nothing as subjective as one’s response to movies. All I can offer is my honest opinion and the promise that I will not resort to using a thesaurus.

To begin with, even though I appreciate the studios saving me the price of admission and the bother of leaving my house for the local Cineplex, I have to say that if these nine movies are the cream of the crop, 2008 is the worst year in movie history.

The nine are “The Reader,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Milk,” “Frost/Nixon,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “Changeling,” “The Wrestler,” “Defiance” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”