An Unconventional Year for Awards Season

Sam Boulos, Staff Reporter

What a year for the entertainment industry: between halted production on films due to COVID, closed movie theaters leading to delays in release of films, or a shift to online streaming, the actors, directors, and producers face unknown territory as we enter the 2020-2021 Awards Season.

First, a brief primer on the award season: the big kick-off starts in September with the Emmys. The Emmy Awards are given to the finest performances in a television series, mini-series, or documentary. Decades ago, before Friends and Grey’s Anatomy, and before HBO programming that brought big stars like Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon to the small screen, the Emmys weren’t considered nearly as exciting as the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. 

February is when the excitement amps up, and the nominations start rolling in for the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Academy Awards. The Brits host the BAFTA awards, which have become more popular stateside over the last few years thanks to the popularity of British shows like The Crown and Downton Abbey.

The Golden Globes are often a viewer favorite. Senior Brooke Goodman said, “I look forward to the Golden Globes every year.” Hosted and voted on by the foreign press association, most people consider this award show the most fun. It brings together all of the stars: television, film, and frequently a pop-star or two (there is, after all, a soundtrack award). Senior Slade Baldwin even states that “I don’t even usually watch the Golden Globes but I see stuff about it all over social media the next day.” The celebrities are seated at tables stocked with Moet and Chandon, and some of the acceptance speeches tend to be a bit “looser” than at other awards shows. (See Moet and Chandon).

The SAG, or Screen Actors Guild Awards, follow the Golden Globes. Although not quite as fun a watch for the viewer, many see this as a good predictor of who will take away the Oscar. It’s also a critical nod for actors because the SAG awards are voted on by peers. Every working actor has a “Screen Actors Guild Card,” and votes on the best performances. Acceptance speeches at the SAG Award usually include the  line: “Oh, this means so much to me because it was given to me by my incredibly talented peers.”

Recent years have seen all of these awards shows needing to answer for the lack of diversity in film and television across the board. Since the first Academy Awards show in 1929, only one actress of color, Halle Berry, has won an award for Best Female Actor. Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington have taken home the award for Best Male Actor. The lack of diversity on screens and behind the camera led to movements like #oscarssowhite.

The Academy has finally taken notice, and in 2024 a film will have to have one lead or supporting actor from an underrepresented group. It will also have to ensure diversity behind the camera and in the production crew.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, we will likely see more award shows presented “virtually,” following the lead of the 2020 Emmy’s. And while we may miss out on the red-carpet moments, the awards will still provide entertainment if the producers run a tight ship and choose great hosts. Physics and environmental teacher Courtney McKinley said, “It was fun to watch the Schitt’s Creek cast all together in a room, dressed up, attending virtually in real time. They swept every category and the speeches reflected an endearing dynamic between the father and the son.” Like every other industry, this is the chance for Awards shows to pivot: not only in their format but also in equal representation.