Awards Season: Let the two months of back patting commence!

Awards. They exist in all aspects of life, from academia to sports. And films are no exception. We’re deep into awards season now, and won’t be out of it until March. The awards may be numerous, but one thing is certain: winning one certainly doesn’t hurt your box office receipts. All term we will be reporting on the awards season, analysing the big winners and losers. But who determines which films win? What does it actually mean when the poster boasts “winner of 4 Golden Globes”?

The first major date is Sunday 17th January, the date of the Golden Globes. These TV and film awards are voted on and decided by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a collective of Hollywood-based foreign journalists (who must only publish 4 articles a year to maintain membership). The reason for their popularity is that they provide one of the few formal opportunities for stars in these two different media to socialise, and combined with the lavish budget it is generally considered a good party for everyone involved. However, their merit as awards can be questioned; because of the few voters it’s been suggested that films can win some categories with as little as 5 or 6 votes, and there has been more than a couple corruption scandals. Most recently, it was claimed last year that Sony had bribed voters with all-expenses paid trips to Las Vegas, receiving a nomination for critical disappointment The Touristas best musical/comedy in return.

Various industry awards take place towards the tail-end of January, including those by the Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America andScreen Actors Guild. These awards tend to focus on the interests of each particular guild, and often provide an accurate barometer for the more prestigious awards ceremonies. For example, in 62 years there has only been six occasions when the DGA’s best director has not gone on to win an Academy Award.

The British Academy of Film and Television Awards take place on 12th February, one of the few major awards ceremonies that do not take place in America. They are voted on by over 6,000 members, and voting takes place in three stages; initially a first vote draws up a longlist of nominees (available now on the BAFTA website), while the second vote narrows down the field to present the final nominations. After this, the final vote takes place for the awards. All the academy members can vote on the awards for Best Film, Best Film not in the English language and the four performance roles (Best Actor, Actress and Supporting). The technical categories are decided by chapters made up of at least 80 experts in that field, and are then opened up to the entire membership or decided by a jury. Finally there is a super jury made up of industry experts who vote on Best British Film, and a Rising Star award voted by the general public.

Finally the Academy Awards round off proceedings on the 26th February, decided by over 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Criticised and revered in equal measure, they remain the most prestigious awards in the industry.