Golden Globes vs. Oscars: Which Wins?

Filled with boozy dinners and voted on by the mysterious and illusive Hollywood Foreign Press, the Golden Globes has always been seen as lesser than the Oscars, sort of like that drunk uncle that’s fun during the holidays but never taken too seriously. And the ratings tend to agree: Last year, ABC’s broadcast of the Academy Awards delivered 40.3 million viewers, which is saying something, given the criticism that Seth MacFarlane drew and the atrocity that was James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2011. Despite the continued brilliance of hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, the Globes drew a measly 19.7 million viewers last year.

But next Sunday, Jan. 12, the 71st presentation of the Golden Globe Awards could finally see the underdog rise up to become the most anticipated event of the season. Everyone knows the Globes are the more fun of the two events — would you rather sit around a table with your friends drinking or lurk awkwardly in a theater full of people not speaking? And this year sees the Globes hosted again by the brilliant Fey/Poehler combo, which now everyone knows will produce absolute comedic genius. Plus, legitimate stars that people actually like, such as Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Hanks, and Kate Winslet, are nominated and even profiled on the show's completely re-vamped website (which is very well-designed, I might add). And now that television has become a more respected medium, thanks to shows like Breaking Bad, Downtown Abbey, and Masters of Sex (all nominees for Best TV Series, Drama), the combination of television and film into one awards show just seems to make sense. Add all of that together, and the 71st Annual Golden Globes seems like it could win the race against Oscar.

After all, it's clear the Globes are trying to class it up and separate from their reputation as the lesser of the two awards ceremonies. The question is whether or not the anticipation surrounding the show actually draws more viewers. In the past, the Globes have traditionally been seen as indicators of later Oscar winners, and the show has continuously given Hollywood a boost. In fact, the Globes result in bigger box-office gains for the films they award than the Oscars — $14.2 million per film, on average, versus $3 million. This means that, when it comes to money, the Globes is the greater of the two awards shows.

Still, despite that fact and the increased excitement surrounding the event, the Globes will have a tough time eclipsing the Oscars. Why? Because the legitimacy of the Oscars and the reputation of the Globes continue to play an important role in how both shows are perceived, and thus how many people actually watch them. There’s a reason we say a film is of Oscar rather than Golden Globe caliber.

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The Golden Globes, which recognize achievements in 25 categories, 14 in motion pictures and 11 in television, has failed to be taken seriously as a true indicator of the best films of the year mostly because the Foreign Press’ picks often seem to be completely out of left field — either too alternative or less serious than best picture Oscar winners. In recent years, the trend has gravitated towards the latter, with Avatar winning 2009's Best Picture Golden Globe the same year The Hurt Locker won the Oscar for Best Picture. In 2011, The Social Network beat out The King's Speech for the Golden Globe — both great films but a British king with a lisp definitely has more Oscar prestige than an awkward yet ambitious twentysomething.

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It doesn't help that the Golden Globes' categories have also forced the show into the stereotype of being a less “legitimate” awards ceremony. When movies like Mrs. Doubtfire, Babe, and The Hangover can win legitimate awards (despite how good those movies are), there’s no way that people will actually view the Globes as the better ceremony of the two. Plus, they award a Mr. and Miss Golden Globe, I mean seriously? What is this, junior prom?

With the addition of television categories in 1956, the Globes pretty much did themselves in. Though television is arguably the better medium these days — the Globes has started to nominate actually quality television such as The Good Wife and Orange is the New Black — it still continues to nominate shows, like The Big Bang Theory, that mimic its multi-camera, laugh track-filled nominees of the past. With its eye still centered on traditional network comedic television, it's hard to view the Globes on the same level as the Oscars. Hopefully, with more A-listers like Kevin Spacey — who, yes, has won an Oscar — heading to television on shows like Netflix's House of Cards, the Globes will continue its steady climb towards prestige.

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The reputation of the Globes also continues to be an issue. The Globes are certainly more fun than the Oscars — held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, in a room where dinner and drinks are served to guests schmoozing at cozy tables. The Oscars, on the other hand, are held in a massive theater, beautiful in its own right, but in the middle of a mall on Hollywood and Highland. Plus, there’s essentially no talking, no drinking, and no form entertainment during the long commercial breaks. Literally, no one talks. This is a very serious event, people.

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And finally there’s the issue of the Hollywood Foreign Press. Actually what is that? We know that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is made up of people who actually work in the industry and have been nominated for things in the past. The Press was created in 1943 by a group of overseas journalist who banded together to share information, contacts and material. The group grew to encompass other members of the world press, then felt “obliged” to distinguish Hollywood’s achievements. So, essentially, we trust our awards decisions to a group of glorified paparazzi.

Granted, I am certainly looking forward to the Globes as much as the Oscars due to my extensive television watching and love of all things comedy. And there's little doubt the ceremony will be more entertaining than its more respected kin. But the Oscars will always be the more anticipated event, regardless of the sheer talent showing up to the always fun Globes. Plus, with Jennifer Lawrence a sure-fire Oscar nominee, we have a feeling the Oscars' sense of humor will more than keep up with the Globes' this year. Right, Jennifer?