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Oscars vs. the Globes

By Brendon Field
On February 18, 2013

This Sunday, we'll see the presentation of the 85th Academy Awards. I already ranted about the Academy's antics once this semester, and I probably will again next week in my post-show review, so I thought now would be a good time to do something fun. I'm going to do a little comparison and critique of the Oscars and the second biggest film awards show, The Golden Globes. The Oscars of course will always be the more prestigious; but which is objectively better?
The biggest difference between the Oscars and the Globes is the Best Picture category. Both have a history of unworthy nominations and victories, so I'll call it a draw there. But the Globes give two awards, dividing films into dramas and musical/comedies. There are two sides to the coin. It allows for more nominations and acknowledgment of different forms of craft. However, there's an implication that the comedies aren't on the same level as dramas, which just isn't true. Stellar comedies are rarer than dramas, but that's because they're harder to make. Making drama is easy: someone dies, a city's in danger, people cheat on one another, etc. Comedy, particularly hard hitting and innovative comedy is very difficult. We usually get one every year, and it makes the musical/comedy category really easy to predict. If this was five years ago and the Academy was still stupidly restricting its Best Picture category to five films, I might give the point to the Globes, but the Oscars have expanded their horizon and given much more acknowledgment to box office hits and genre films in recent years, so I'll give them that.
Each group gives a directorial award each year, and while both run very similar, the Oscars have an annoying habit of handing the Best Director prize to whomever directed the Best Picture. The Globes rightly judges the two separately. Like Best Picture, the Globes splits their lead acting awards in two, again one for drama, one for comedy. Here, I'm in favor of the split, as a serious performance and a funny performance are completely different realms of acting. Where they don't split and should is for the screenplay award. The Oscars give two, one for original and one for adapted. And I suppose the Oscars deserve bonus points for having awards for short films and technical aspects of production, which really are important. But I won't penalize the Globes for devoting awards to television, although they should have an award for documentaries.
If there is anything that would set the Globes ahead of the Oscars, it would be what happens behind the scenes. The Academy's rulebook of requirements for eligibility is long and much of it extraneous, with many worthy films shut out of a nomination due to a technicality. All the politics and campaigning can lead to slanted voting based not on the film but the people behind it. This also happens with the Globes, such as in "Burlesque" and "The Tourist," to a lesser extent. The Hollywood Foreign Press (which runs the Golden Globes) is also a more diverse organization than the Academy, which has a reputation for being old and white.
While format and process matters, it really comes down to who goes home with the gold, and which institution makes better choices. I looked at the results for every category for each show for the past 20 years or so, and the final verdict is... here and there. I agree with Oscars heavily in places and the Globes in others. I'm just one man with a set of not so humble opinions. Sorry for the anticlimax, but when it comes to movie awards ceremonies, that's what you get.

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