The Golden Globes are not the enemy, but the Academy Awards are

Perhaps we should dismantle the Oscars

Golden Globe nominee American Hustle (Columbia Pictures)

The 2014 Golden Globe nominations were announced early Thursday morning—perhaps too early, for some on the West Coast—and almost immediately the attacks started pouring in. From the Globes’ oft-derided “comedy or musical” selections to its seemingly oblivious snubs, film critics were aghast, outraged, even!, that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association would dare to yet again force its nominations onto a vulnerable and defenceless public.

Yet as much fun as it is to mock Golden Globe choices from both this year (Rush as best drama? The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle as comedies?) and years past (Johnny Depp’s The Tourist should never have been nominated for anything except a Razzie), the awards show has a far better track record when stacked against the Oscars, which it forever will be compared to.

In 2011, for instance, the Oscars named The King’s Speech the best picture of the year, a move widely decried by critics who thought, justifiably, that its treacly sentimentality reeked of awards-bait stench. The Globes, meanwhile, gave its award for best drama to The Social Network, which proved far more palatable to critical tastes. (As is tradition, the Globes also bizarrely hand out an annual award for best comedy or musical—The Kids Are All Right won in 2011—though with a few exceptions, those films rarely achieve any Oscar-level consideration.)

The Globes trumped the Oscars again in 2012, when the complex and critically loved The Descendants swept the Globes, while the gimmicky The Artist took the Oscars. Ditto 2006 (Brokeback Mountain at the Globes, Crash at the Oscars), 2003 (The Hours at the Globes, Chicago at the Oscars), 1999 (Saving Private Ryan at the Globes, Shakespeare in Love at the Oscars) and on and on.

The Globes’ supremacy over the Oscars also extends to its choices of best director, awarding Martin Scorsese over Michel Hazanavicius (2012), David Fincher over Tom Hooper (2011) and Julian Schnabel over Danny Boyle (2009). Again and again, the Globes tend to award the critical darlings, whereas the Oscars trumpet audience favourites, films with more mass-market appeal.

So why the constant scorn from critical circles, which arrives with clockwork-like precision each year? Perhaps it’s animosity toward the HFPA, which is consistently mocked as a bunch of out-of-touch suck-ups who are only in it for the opportunity to rub shoulders with the celebrities they nominate. That’s a somewhat fair description of the organization—but the same can be said of members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who are also decried as out-of-touch fogeys. At least, when it comes down to voting, the HFPA gets it more right than wrong.

Hell, the Golden Globes even throw a better party than the Oscars, what with the flowing booze and unrehearsed Ricky Gervais-aided insanity (plus: no tedious musical numbers!). Instead of complaining about the Golden Globes, perhaps we should instead look at dismantling the Academy Awards. At the very least, it would give the film industry slightly less to complain about.

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