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What's The Difference Between The Golden Globes And The Oscars?

Though a new year has dawned upon us, awards season necessitates further reflection upon the very best films and television series of the year prior. In 2020, there are two more awards ceremonies in place that will honor the creative efforts directors, writers, producers, editors, actors, and more put forth in 2019: the 2020 Golden Globe Awards and the 2020 Academy Awards. 

This year's Golden Globe Awards are set to air on Sunday, January 5, 2020, while the 92nd annual Oscars ceremony will take place on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Traditionally, the Globes set the tone the Oscars, given that the ceremony takes place just as Oscars voting comes to a close. In essence, Golden Globe winners tend to have a higher chance at victory at the Academy Awards, while losers may end up being snubbed twice. 

But what's the difference between the two events? Are the Golden Globe Awards more or less prestigious than the Academy Awards? Who votes for the Golden Globes, and who decides Oscar winners? Let's break it all down.

The content that the Golden Globes and the Oscars recognize

For starters, the Golden Globes and the Oscars differ slightly in the content mediums they recognize. 

The Golden Globe Awards honor both films and television series, as well as the various people who create them, and give out trophies in 25 categories (14 in film and 11 in television) plus the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement in Motion Pictures and the Carol Burnett Award for Lifetime Achievement in Television. They include the following:

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Best Director – Motion Picture

Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama

Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama

Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

Best Television Series – Drama

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Best Miniseries or Television Film

Best Actor – Television Series Drama

Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy

Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film

Best Actress – Television Series Drama

Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy

Best Actress – Miniseries or TV Film

Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries, or TV Film

Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries, or TV Film

The Oscars, on the other hand, recognize films only, and has 24 main awards. Other awards, aptly known as Special Academy Awards, are given on a case-by-case basis, and include the Academy Honorary Award, the Academy Scientific and Technical Award, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, and the Academy Special Achievement Award, which was discontinued in 1995 and brought back in 2017 (but not in 2018 or 2019). The main Academy Awards categories are as follows:

Best Picture

Best Director

Best Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actress

Best Animated Feature Film

Best Animated Short Film

Best Cinematography

Best Costume Design

Best Documentary – Feature

Best Documentary – Short Subject

Best Film Editing

Best International Feature Film

Best Live-Action Short Film

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Best Original Score

Best Original Song

Best Production Design

Best Sound Editing

Best Sound Mixing

Best Visual Effects

Best Adapted Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay

Different associations vote for winners

Now that you know which types of content are eligible for recognition at the Golden Globes and the Oscars, you're probably wondering who picks the nominees and selects the actual winners. Here's where the differences between the ceremonies really kick in. 

The 90-plus members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), a non-profit organization consisting of journalists and photographers from 55 countries who cover U.S. entertainment industry activity across various media outlets, conduct the Golden Globe Awards each year. For the 2019-2020 awards season, the HFPA is led by president Lorenzo Soria, vice president Ali Sar, treasurer Janet R. Nepales, executive secretary Ruben V. Nepales, and chairman of the board of directors Meher Tatna (via GoldenGlobes.com). 

Teams and representatives behind films must send to the HFPA "for consideration" forms 10 days prior to the first screening, while those hoping to enter TV shows for potential nomination must submit as soon as possible before the nomination period ends. In November of each year, HFPA members vote for their top five picks in each category, ranking them in descending order from 5 to 1. Nominees are chosen based on the entries that receive the highest number of votes. Final ballots are sent out in mid-December, and HFPA members vote for the winners. Nominees with the most votes take home the trophies at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony.

As for the Academy Awards, things are a little more complicated. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) conducts the Oscars each year. The organization, comprised of industry professionals split up into 17 different arenas that cover different disciplines of the film industry, select their top five nominees from entries provided by film studios, actors, directors, and more. There are several qualifications a film must meet in order to be considered for Oscars nomination, but the most important ones are that it has to have been released between January 1 and December 31 of the previous calendar year and has to have screened in theaters for seven days in a row. Generally, members can only select nominees in the categories in which they belong — for example, only directors can vote for Best Director — but all members are allowed to vote for Best Picture.

After AMPAS members — of which there are thousands, including the 842 new members that joined in July 2019 — finish the nomination process, final ballots are sent out for voting in late December. Members can cast ballots for five or fewer nominees for major categories, ranked by preference, and up to 10 for Best Picture. For the 2020 Oscars, voting officially begins on Thursday, January 2 and concludes on Wednesday, January 8.

Neither selection process is better than the other, and neither ceremony is technically more prestigious, but the general consensus amongst industry insiders is that the Academy Awards hold more weight considering the winners are selected by their peers — validation of an even higher degree. From the vantage point of everyday people like us, though, anyone who even attends the Golden Globes or the Oscars has pretty much already made it in Hollywood.