This is the year Oscar lost count.

Ten nominees for Best Picture? Most years, the judges have trouble rounding up five films that don't totally suck. But under the theory that "Best Picture Nominee" in a movie ad never actually hurt ticket sales, the winner will be plucked Sunday night from 417 - or is it 816 or 10? - mostly forgettable films.

Lingering for a moment on the nomination explosion: Now that almost every movie is a nominee, that honor will soon become the marketing equivalent of "We sell popcorn at this theater and bathtub-sized fountain drinks."

Of course you're up for Best Picture!

If they'd only kept the number at five, those hybrid-driving Academy judges could have cut back on the Kodak Theatre program printing and saved a rainforest or three. So who's gonna win the big one on Sunday? "The Hurt Locker," everyone in Hollywood seems to believe.

Suddenly, I'm almost feeling sorry for James Cameron and his half-a-billion dollar self-aggrandizement, released under the name "Avatar." Cameron deserves better than this. Do you know how many 3-D animators and catering-truck workers that kind of money keeps employed?
"The Hurt Locker" is a nice, smallish Iraq war film. It's about some guys in a bomb-disposal unit. Besides Best Picture, the film is in the official running for eight other statuettes, which is pretty much every category the Oscars have except best butter-like substance for the popcorn and best sticky stuff on the theater floor beneath the seat. Surely it would win those categories, too.

And now that the fix is in, the real absurdity and pettiness in Hollywood is stepping into the light. Nicolas Chartier, one of the four producers of "The Hurt Locker," had his Oscar tickets yanked. He is accused of violating standard Hollywood protocol by sending out an e-mail to his friends, including some Academy judges. The e-mail said to support his movie -- and "not the $500 million film."

Imagine that! A movie producer talking up his product and trashing someone else's!

Who knew hype was against the rules in Hollywood?

They should probably give a statuette.

Ellis Henican is a columnist for amNewYork and Newsday. He is a Fox News contributor.

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