The Road to the Oscars

A lot of other awards shows lead up to the Oscars


The story

It’s Meryl Streep appreciation season.

Tell me more.

Welcome to awards season – the most important time of year for Hollywood. It all leads up to the Oscars in February. Here’s what you need to know…

Golden Globes...the one where they can drink. It kicks off the season with awards to the best of the big and the small screen. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association – made up of around 90 journalists that write for foreign outlets – does the deciding. This group has almost no crossover with the Academy, so isn’t a great predictor of who will take home Oscar.

SAG Awards...the one that’s decided by the actors’ union. Meaning a combo of the biggest names in the biz and your friend’s roommate who’s still trying to make it. Some members are randomly selected to choose what’s nominated. Then the whole squad gets to vote. Since SAG members overlap with Oscar voters, this is the first show that’s like a Magic 8 Ball for the Academy Awards.

BAFTA Film Awards...the one across the pond. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a club of thousands of higher-ups in the entertainment industry. Think: executive producers, longtime actors. Members also have to have some connection to British entertainment. And yes, there’s overlap with Oscar voters. So this awards ceremony can sometimes hint at who’s getting the gold statuette. To be eligible, movies have to show in a certain number of UK theaters, but they don’t have to be British films.

DGA Awards...the one that’s decided by the directors’ union. The group includes directors of movies, tv shows, and even commercials. It only gives awards for categories like best director of a film, best first-time director, etc. It’s also a pretty accurate predictor of what will be crowned best picture and who'll get best director at the Oscars.

Academy Awards...the one that you’ve been waiting for. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decides who’s going home with Oscar. The group has roughly 8,500 members. But it’s exclusive. You need to have worked in the movie industry, and be sponsored by two current members. In recent years, the Academy has gotten a lot of shade for its lack of diversity (#OscarsSoWhite). It promised to change. And invited hundreds of new people to join – many women and people of color. In 2017, the Academy nominated a record number of black actors. In didn’t. But some nominees set records. Like Jordan Peele, who was the first black screenwriter to win best original screenplay for “Get Out.” And Mary J Blige – who became the first person ever nominated for acting and original song awards in the same year. Also, Dee Rees was the first black woman nominated for best adapted screenplay for “Mudbound.” When it comes to voting, actors vote for actors, directors vote for directors, etc.

Is that all?

No. There’s a lot of schmoozing going on behind the scenes during awards season. Production companies shell out millions on ad campaigns and screenings to woo voters. Harvey Weinstein used to be the king of this. Not anymore.

What now?

Things are different. After reports alleging Weinstein is a serial sexual assaulter, Hollywood has been reckoning with an unprecedented conversation about sexual harassment and assault. This is why last year’s Golden Globes red carpet was painted black. And why you’ve been hearing a lot about Time’s Up, Hollywood’s initiative to do things like provide legal help to victims of sexual harassment in low-income jobs, and push for equal representation of women in leadership roles in the workplace.


Last year, awards shows addressed the #MeToo controversy head on. And showed solidarity for Time’s Up. At this year’s Golden Globes, those movements weren’t front and center anymore. And many say Hollywood still has a lot of progress to make.

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