Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG: Which Film Award Matters The Most?

By Gillian Kane

We are amid one of my favorite seasons: Award Season! The exact start of Award Season is hotly contested, but I’d say it starts around September with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). That’s when a majority of the contenders premiere and their People’s Choice Award usually indicates a Best Picture nominee or winner at the Oscars. The end of Award Season is the Academy Awards held in February, but there are many awards handed out before then by various organizations. Two of the major precursors are the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. Not sure what the difference is between all these shows? Keep reading!

The Golden Globes took place this year on January 5th, hosted by the ever-controversial Ricky Gervais. The Globes are probably the most fun award show to watch because the alcohol flows the entire night and the celebrities are having an absolute blast. Unfortunately, the actual awards tend to be less meaningful for a variety of reasons.

First off, they are chosen by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is a group of about 93 members from various countries. The second reason is that it becomes obvious that the HFPA can be bought by a studio or producer. The correlation between the Golden Globes winners and winners of other awards usually don’t match, so when people try to figure out Oscar nominees and winners based off the Golden Globes, it’s frustrating. 

Never forget, The Hangover won Best Picture, Comedy/Musical and people were convinced it would get nominated for an Oscar. It did not.

The Globes aren’t all bad though. Yes, they have significant blind spots when it comes to honoring female directors and actors of color. But the fact that they are essentially honoring ten films every year (five drama, five comedy/musicals), is rather impressive considering the Oscars did away with that in the mid-1940s and only reinstated more than five nominees for Best Picture in 2009. 

Then again, sometimes they just shoehorn a film into a category that causes more questions (Get Out is a comedy? Come again?). And don’t get me started on placing The Farewell in Best Foreign Film, when it is an American film. The Globes are the best viewing, but not great for much else.

The next set of awards is the Screen Actors Guild Awards, or SAG Awards. Now this probably has the largest voting party because as long as you are a working actor and pay your dues, you can vote here. This award show is a bit of a snore sadly. However, it runs quickly with a two-hour runtime and normally doesn’t have a host or much banter.

The SAGs are pretty well-respected, and the actors generally enjoy winning one of these because it actually came from their peers. But it can also look like a popularity contest. Also, if you’re part of a very large cast filled with stars, you’re more likely to win Best Ensemble. 

Writer Gillian Kane. Courtesy of Gillian Kane

This award is a better indicator of Oscar success, but since they are still limited to only five nominees, it doesn’t always occur. One thing that I personally love about the SAG Awards is the fact that they honor stunt crews for movies and television. Why the Oscars have not created an award for stunts yet is beyond me, especially with the success of the Marvel movies and the Mission: Impossible franchise.

Finally, there is the biggest award, the Oscar or Academy Award. They are voted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization of about 6,000 members. After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, there have been some gains in diversity over the past few years by inviting more creatives of color and lessening the age gap.

Since 2009, when they reintroduced having more than five nominees for Best Picture, there has been a wider range of genres highlighted. The Oscars tended to ignore sci-fi, horror and comic book films in the past, except more recently when they nominated films like Arrival, Get Out, and Black Panther

There have only been five women nominated for Best Director and only one has won: Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. And while they have gotten better at nominating actors of color, they don’t tend to award them for their work even when it’s clear they deserve it. More often than not, actors of color win for playing roles involving slaves or maids, which is extremely problematic.

The award show is going hostless for a second time, which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed having a host move the show along. Last year worked well, but I missed having a focal point to return to every so often. They feel like they go on forever and almost always run long, but it’s a good show with musical performances and montages. Plus, you never know when another shocker will occur like with the Best Picture mix-up at the 2017 show involving La La Land and Moonlight.

While I love Award Season and watching these shows, deep down, they are not perfect reflections of what is good in the industry. Everyone’s opinions are subjective and some people prefer more accessible films, like action blockbusters, to normal award season fare like period pieces. And that’s okay! I love a ton of movies that will never be nominated for major awards and their lack of award success does not make me think any less of them. There are tons of reasons movies get nominated and not all of them are unsavory. All that matters is your enjoyment. That’s what movies are there for: to entertain us when things are good and bad.

Gillian is a lover of all things media looking for a position in the entertainment industry. She currently has a blog, The Geeky Rose, and a podcast, The Geeky Rose Shots, and also writes for Fangirlish.

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