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Awards Season Right Around the Corner

Observer Scene | Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It is an honorable thing to celebrate baseball season. My roommate avidly celebrates hockey season. We all gleefully (if not nervously) await football season. But this, my friends, is the greatest season of all. Basketball season? Oh, no! It’s awards season! This fabulous time of year comes around every January – the glorious reprieve from the winter doldrums of post-Christmas time. While others are taking down holly and packing up lights, Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet and shopping for diamonds. Competition to win everything from an Oscar to Best Dressed is in the air, and it is the grandest of spectator sports.

Awards season begins with the Golden Globes, kicking off the festivities in early January. They usually do a pretty good job of predicting the heavy hitters of the Hollywood Super Bowl held the last Sunday in February, the Academy Awards. In between we have the SAGs, the awards given by the Screen Actors Guild. Here’s a breakdown of each awards ceremonies.

The Golden Globes are awards given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, or HFPA. Hence all the winners thanking the “Hollywood Foreign Press.” But who are these mad men (and women)? They are a group of about 90 journalists who are based out of southern California and write about – you guessed it – movies and television. They attend all the usual press conferences and screenings surrounding the promotion of a picture. At the end of the year they get together and vote on the best of the best from television and motion pictures and host the Golden Globe Awards, which is basically just a big televised charity dinner. The HFPA is mostly funded by the Golden Globes, and they donate the money from the ceremony to various entertainment related charities. The lesson here? If a bunch of people with the power to control the critical reception of your film tell you they want to host their own awards show, you go with it.

 The Screen Actors Guild is the union for Actors who, well, do screen work (as opposed to stage), which ranges from movies to video games. They are the actor’s counterpoint to the lovely association of writers who halted Hollywood last year with a strike and left us lacking a Golden Globes ceremony. Like the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA), SAG has been threatening to go on strike for pretty much the same reasons as WGA did last year, with internet rights and compensation for new electronic and alternative forms of distribution of their films. So far there has been no strike, but SAG is not yet content, and with good reason. Keep your eyes on these guys and let’s pray it gets resolved nicely so we won’t have another bleak season of never-ending reruns.

The SAG awards are voted on by over 100,000 members. This is, for all intents and purpose, the most democratic awards ceremony. It is for actors by actors. It includes funky little categories like Best Stunt Ensemble. It also has my personally favorite categories: Best Comedy Series Ensemble, Best Drama Series Ensemble and Best Motion Picture Cast. These air Sunday, January 25th.

Then comes the Big One, the Mother Load of Cinema Awards: the Oscars! Hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, these awards are historically the most significant and the ones people dream of winning. This is the only ceremony with its own broadcast of the nominee announcements, which will be Jan. 22 at 8:30a.m. The Academy Awards will be held February 22.

The Academy was founded in 1927 by a bunch of Hollywood big wigs, and has about 6,000 members of producers, directors, actors, art directors and cinematographers. These guys are the cream of the crop in the cinema world and have a legacy longer than the HFPA or SAG, and therefore command the most respect when they decide to dole out awards. Their awards are strictly motion picture oriented, so sorry, Tina, you can’t pick up anything here. Unless of course they invent a category called We Thought Tina Fey Needed Another Award, which is always possible. But the real question is, why are they called the Oscars? Well, legend has it Margaret Herrick, Executive Secretary of the Academy back in the day, saw one of the first statuettes and said it reminded her of her Uncle Oscar.

So there you have it, awards season enthusiasts. Go forth, now, and watch knowledgeably, root fiercely and bask delightedly in all the glitz and glamour of the next two months.

Contact Stephanie DePrez at sdeprez@nd.edu.