The 74th Golden Globe Awards were broadcast yesterday on NBC, with much media coverage. Often, the Golden Globes are used to predict the Academy Awards, which are much more prolific. More importantly, however, the Academy Awards are also actually relevant to the film industry.
The Academy Awards nominations and winners are decided by working Hollywood professionals, including directors, actors, screenwriters, and anyone who’s employed in a principle based in skill that can be nominated for an award. The Academy Awards are given to artists by artists. To be given an Academy Award is to be told that you are considered to be worthy of recognition by your peers. An Academy Award is legitimate, and has value, because it’s being given to you by people who also do what you do. Some people accuse the Academy Awards of being Hollywood patting itself on the back, as if there’s something inherently wrong with creative people being told that they’re appreciated within their craft.
The Golden Globes, on the other hand, are totally meaningless. For starters, it’s held by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is any journalist that lives in Hollywood but writes for a publication or website based outside America. That’s a problem in numerous ways; not least because it means that each of those foreign press outlets are being treated as equally valid; that a daily tabloid that prints anything because it needs to sell papers is of the same integrity as a weekly broadsheet that focuses on the important newsworthy stories of the week. Those two things are not realistically comparable, yet are treated as such by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Furthermore, it is the people writing for these outlets that decide who wins the “Golden Globes”. Not other filmmakers, who understand the craft, but journalists, who vary greatly in terms of knowledge and experience.
Not to mention that “Golden Globe” is also a meaningless title. “Golden Globe” sounds valuable and worldly, but is in fact the term is used in place of the “Hollywood Foreign Press Association Awards”. Nobody would want to watch an event with that name. You know it, they know it. The Academy Awards calls itself what it is, the Golden Globes do not. Therefore, even at the name, the Golden Globes do not matter.
And then there’s the categories. Now let’s not pretend that Academy Awards don’t need a category reorganisation, because they do. But the Academy Awards are at least closer to a model for how film awards should be arranged, as we’ll see. The Golden Globes categories are… confusing, to say the least.
Best Motion Picture is divided into Drama and Musical or Comedy. A good film is a good film, regardless of genre. Creating two Best Motion Picture categories undermines both of them, because it decreases the quantity of competition. Plus, most musicals are dramas, not comedies. This means that comedies rarely win, because their musical rivals are more dramatic. Thus, Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy undermines the very concept of an awards process by inserting an inevitable bias of distortion. Both the Best Actor and Best Actress awards are divided in this way also, leading to four categories for leading players. The unnecessary gender divide in the Academy Awards is also present, but when the Academy Awards unnecessarily nominate actors based on gender, at least they consider all films together, like they should. To add to the confusion, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress are not divided into Drama or Musical or Comedy. While this is the way it should be, it’s inconsistent for the Golden Globes to not take this approach to leading actors. Right there, the Golden Globes are confused as to what they want to be.
The reason the Academy Awards don’t segregate their Best Picture nominees by genre is because – apart from undermining the awards process – genres are difficult to define. The genre is an artistic concept, or theory. The Academy Awards base their nomination categories on measurable fact. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated The Martian for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, because The Martian is a Musical or Comedy in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s opinion, it would seem. Maybe it’s because the Hollywood Foreign Press Association don’t consider there to be enough musicals or comedies released in a year – but it is not theirs to change. If there are to be more musicals or comedies winning awards, then maybe Hollywood need to make more of them? Categories do not exist to create balance. To think with this mentality would be another way of undermining the awards process yet more.
The same goes for acting awards in television: awarded for Drama and Comedy to leading performers, but not to support parts – who, yet, are recognised for Series, Limited Series or Motion Pictures Made for Television. But this is a whole separate award for leading actors. That’s eight television acting awards, with illogical inconsistency across that category. Of course, on both sides of the board, the acting awards need to be revised, because a good performance is a good performance, regardless of role size, but the Academy Awards are at least somewhat limiting the problem. Again: the Golden Globes are confused as to what they want to be.
The Academy Awards aren’t perfect, and still need to review their awards categories. This is a whole other article, so I won’t go into much detail about that here. But the Academy Awards are given by people who understand the creative process, and are recognising their fellows. The Golden Globes do not understand the process, and thus seek to cause as much fragmentation as possible in order to broadcast a longer show. It’s true: the Golden Globes do put on a better show. That’s why they get such high ratings. Of course, studios want their films to win as many awards as possible, that’s why Hollywood’s own media continues to perpetuate the Golden Globe Awards. But the artists that made those films should be fully aware of how little it matters to them. And they do seem to: during the whole show, people are talking, and texting, and being distracted. As if they only half care. That’s why it’s time for the media to stop being obsessed with the Golden Globes, and understand them for what they are: a vehicular waste of time.