A Beginners’ Guide To Awards Season

Written by Chris Gelderd

Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to write my first ever article for JumpCut UK, and what better place to start, at this time of the year, than with a Beginners’ Guide to Awards Season.

Now, Hollywood runs to a pretty tight calendar. Spring usually offers up plenty of family-friendly films; Summer is all about the big-budget blockbusters; Autumn gives us the horrors and thrillers, whilst winter signals the start of awards season, when studios battle it out with their carefully selected productions, aiming to surprise and move audiences, with one eye firmly placed on adding some gold statues to their trophy cabinets. There are awards-skeptics who now regard all of this as simply over-the-top, politically and racially motived, Hollywood excess, whilst others can’t wait to delve into the treasures that studios have been saving for this time of year. Lastly, there are those who are new to the whole awards season buzz. If you fit into this category, then hopefully you’ll find this simple guide to be a helpful introduction to the glitz and glamour of awards season.

Awards season runs from November, through to February, and begins with the Gotham Independent Film Awards – a small celebration of independent films, hosted in New York City, and part of the Independent Filmmaker Project. The Gotham Independent Film Awards have been running since 1991, and for only $30,000 you can book a table yourself to attend. Winners this year included Casey Affleck as Best Actor for ‘Manchester By The Sea’, ‘Moonlight’ for Best Feature and Trey Edward Shults for Breakthrough Director with ‘Krisha’.

Next, the Hollywood Film Awards are regarded as many to be the true launch of the awards season. Founded in 1997, in California, the HFA now celebrates its 20th Anniversary. Winners this year included Tom Hanks with the Hollywood Actor Award for ‘Sully’, Natalie Portman taking the Hollywood Actress Award for ‘Jackie’ and Eddie Murphy scooped the Career Achievement Award.

During December, a small batch of ceremonies take place. Up first is the New York Film Critics’ Choice, founded in 1935. This is one of the oldest, and therefore most prestigious ceremonies in the whole industry, and the winner of the top prize here this year was ‘La La Land’. Next is The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures, founded in 1909. This year, their categories broke new ground in recognising not just acting, but also that of animation and foreign-language films. ‘Manchester By The Sea’ took home Best Film, with Casey Affleck also winning Best Actor, whilst Amy Adams nabbed the Best Actress award for performance in ‘Arrival’ and ‘Kubo And The Two Strings’ bagged Best Animated Feature. Rounding off December is the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Founded in 1975, this is a gathering of print and electronic media based film critics in the Los Angeles area. Winners here included ‘Moonlight’ and ‘The Handmaiden’, with Shirley Maclaine taking home the Career Achievement award.

Now, let’s take a glimpse at January. The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards is presented by the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Founded in 1996, these awards factor in a few light categories such as Best Actor In An Action Movie, which is fun and kind of unnecessary. ‘La La Land’ won another Best Picture award, Damen Chazelle won Best Director and ‘Arrival’ took Best Adapted Screenplay. Oh, and because you’re all dying to know, Andrew Garfield won the Best Actor In An Action Movie award for his role in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’.

After this, we really get into the heart of awards season, with one of the biggest ceremonies for both domestic and international media – The Golden Globes; a truly global affair since 1943. The Globes are seen as a strong indicator for how the Academy Awards will go. The 74th Golden Globes were held in Beverly Hills, and winners included ‘Moonlight’, ‘La La Land’ and ‘Fences’, so bear that in mind when plotting your Oscars predictions.

Following the Golden Globes is an event where the general audience get to have their say, with the People’s Choice Awards, meaning nominees tend to be a little more mainstream. The awards were held on January 18th and winners included ‘Finding Dory’ as Favourite Movie (you see what we mean about mainstream now), Ryan Reynolds as Favourite Movie Actor and Johnny Depp being crowned Favourite Movie Icon.

Over the next month, the final slog of awards events will be held, and there’s some pretty prestigious ceremonies taking place in the run-up to the big one. First, it’s The Producers Guild of America Awards, where ‘La La Land’ took home the top film award – the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures – beating off competition from ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ among others. Following that, it’s the Screen Actors Guild Awards, covering film and television. The big winners here were Denzel Washington and co-star Viola Davis for their performances in ‘Fences’, with Emma Stone taking home the Best Lead Actress award, and Maershala Ali taking the Best Support Actor award, giving a moving acceptance speech in the process. Perhaps most surprising though, is the fact that the cast of ‘Hidden Figures’ nabbing the Best Ensemble Cast award.

So, that’s what we’ve had already, and here’s what’s still to come in the remainder of awards season. The next Guild to honour their art is The Directors Guild of America Awards, first launched in 1938. Nominees this year include Damien Chazelle, Denis Villeneuve and Kenneth Lonergan, with winners being announced on February 4th in Los Angeles. Then we head to the United Kingdom for the British Academy Film Awards, or The BAFTAs, hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts since 1949. Nominees include ‘Arrival’, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ and ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, with winners announced on February 12th.

If by now you’re tired of all the praise and niceties going around, you might want to check out one of the more obscure and “silly” awards ceremonies; The Golden Raspberry Awards, founded in 1981, where we get to condemn all of the films that nose-dived that year. The nominees this year include cast and crews of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice’, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’. Find out who wins (or loses, depending on how you look at it) on February 25th.

Drumroll please…so, you’ve navigated your way through all of the awards ceremonies, and now you’re ready for the big one, the most famous of awards; The Academy Awards, or “The Oscars”. First launched in 1929, on the radio, the ceremony moved to television in 1953. An “Oscar” is the nickname given to the Academy Award of Merit; the golden statue all award winners receive. The awards season sweetheart ‘La La Land’ has equaled the record for most nominations, with 14 (pretty much nominated for everything it possibly could be), along with lots of nominations for ‘Manchester By The Sea’, ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Arrival, as well as ‘Jackie’ and, believe it or not, ’Suicide Squad’. The ceremony takes place on February 26th.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings the JumpCut UK “Beginners’ Guide To Awards Season” to an end. So, what have we learnt? Well, pretty much every awards ceremony is in love with ‘La La Land’, with ‘Moonlight’ arguably the closest contender for the Best Picture Oscar. In the acting department, Casey Affleck and Denzel Washington will be the main contenders for the Lead Actor Oscar, whilst Maershala Ali is a shoe-in for the Support Actor gong. Continuing the glowing success of ‘La La Land’, Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone are likely to take home Oscars too. However, that’s just our guess, and only time will tell as to who The Academy gives their gold to.

Enjoy the rest of awards season, and see you next year, folks!

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