This past calendar year, Hollywood released an impressive number of films. Some proved exemplary while others missed the mark, and per tradition, the film community hosted award shows for the cinematic cream of the crop.
This award season kicked off with the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards. The Emmys honor the best of primetime programming in the United States, as chosen by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. This year’s Emmys were hosted by Andy Samberg and aired on the Fox Network on Sept. 20th. By the end of the night, HBO’s “Game Of Thrones” had received a record-breaking 12 awards, the most for any show in a single year. In fact, HBO was the network with the most wins, with 14 overall. Viola Davis became the first black actress to win a Primetime Emmy for a lead actress role in a drama series, awarded for her role as Annalise Keating on “How To Get Away With Murder.” Uzo Aduba became the first actress to win an Emmy for the same role—Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren from Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black”—in both Comedy and Drama categories. No stranger to the Emmys, Jon Hamm was awarded one for his lead role in AMC’s drama series “Mad Men.” Hamm bid farewell to his character, Don Draper, with the series finale last May.
The next major award show was the 73rd Golden Globe Awards. The Golden Globes honor the best in film and American television, as selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Before the show aired, the nominations were released, and many were met with perplexity. For example, critics and the public reacted with confusion to the placement of the dramatic film “The Martian” in the Comedy or Musical category. Many viewed the odd placement as a snub to the other movies nominated within the category.
The Golden Globes aired on NBC on Jan. 10th of this year. Leonardo DiCaprio picked up his first award of the season, receiving Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his portrayal of Hugh Glass in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “The Revenant.” The win ignited buzz about DiCaprio’s chances of taking home the Academy Award for Best Actor. Brie Larson was awarded her first ever Golden Globe for playing Joy “Ma” Newsome in Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room,” while Sylvester Stallone received his for reviving Rocky Balboa in “Creed.” Stallone was nominated for the same character in 1977 but lost the award to Peter Finch; this year’s win brought him a standing ovation. Meanwhile, Kate Winslet took home her fourth Golden Globe for her supporting role in “Steve Jobs,” and Jennifer Lawrence was awarded her third for her lead actress role in the comedy “Joy.”
The Golden Globes recognized excellence in television as well. Taraji P. Henson took home her first Golden Globe for her performance as Cookie Lyon on Fox’s “Empire.” As she walked to the podium, Henson handed out cookies to surrounding individuals as a nod to her character’s name. Repeating last year’s trend, TV network the CW secured Best Actress in a Television Series—Musical or Comedy with Rachel Bloom’s performance on “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Jon Hamm picked up his second ever Golden Globe, again for“Mad Men”; however, he seemed surprised by the win and expressed his disdain for Don Draper in his acceptance speech. Critics were also taken aback when Rami Malek appeared poised to win for his work on USA’s “Mr. Robot,” which later earned the award for TV Series – Drama; Christian Slater was also recognized for his supporting role on the show. Last but not least, Denzel Washington was announced as the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. Washington’s family joined him on stage for an unconventional and casual acceptance speech.
Overall, the Golden Globes was filled with its share of snubs and surprises. For one, Lady Gaga was awarded Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film for her role as The Countess on “American Horror Story: Hotel.” The biggest upset of the night came from Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle,” a show that generated minimal press but took home Best Musical or Comedy Series and Best Actor in a Television Series—Musical or Comedy. It also stole the punchline from Aziz Ansari’s thoughtful joke: when the nominees were announced, Ansari was shown reading a book entitled “How To Lose To Jeffrey Tambor”; Tambor was nominated in the category for his role on Amazon’s “Transparent.”
Unlike the Primetime Emmys, the Golden Globes were lackluster and hard to watch. Ricky Gervais returned to host for the fourth time and gave a disappointing performance. Although he lived up to expectations by being crass and unapologetic, the majority of his jokes missed the mark. Those that were successful poked fun at staples of the industry, most notably Mel Gibson and Sean Penn. The other presenters were similarly underwhelming, opting for trite satirical commentary on Hollywood. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum tried to provide a comedic introduction, but their poorly executed skit lost its momentum and gave the show a rocky start. Jamie Foxx attempted to “pull a Steve Harvey” by announcing the wrong name (“Straight Outta Compton”) for the winner of Best Original Score, in hopes of adding levity to the show. During their presentation of Best Actor in a Drama Series, American Ferrara and Eva Longoria proceeded to remind the public who they are by listing all of the other Latina celebrities they are not, a joke that stemmed from The Golden Globes’ Twitter account having mistakenly tagged American Ferrara in a picture of Gina Rodriguez. Fortunately, Jim Carrey injected a moment of real humor after a broken teleprompter forced him to ad-lib his presentation of Best Motion Picture–Comedy. Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer, meanwhile, proved they were best friends and exemplified their chemistry as they presented clips from their respective films “Joy” and “Trainwreck.”
The following weekend, A&E aired the 21st Critics’ Choice Awards, honoring achievements in film and television programming as determined by the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Host T.J. Miller’s performance was cringeworthy: he delivered poorly timed jokes and drawn out skits that repeatedly fell short. The highlight of the night was nine-year-old, Jacob Tremblay, who won Best Young Actor for his performance in “Room.” Tremblay gave an adorable speech thanking his fellow nominees, “Team ‘Room,’” and his parents. George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” swept the awards, winning nine and demonstrating the power the action movie had on critics. Tom McCarthy’s “Spotlight” took Best Picture and Best Acting ensemble, suggesting Oscar-winning potential. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander received her first two awards of the season, Best Supporting Actress for “The Danish Girl” and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film for “Ex Machina.” Amy Schumer beat out best friend Jennifer Lawrence for Best Actress in a Comedy for playing the protagonist of “Trainwreck.” Schumer was also honored for her work over the past year with the MVP award. In television, “Mr. Robot” earned its second win for Best Drama Series, while Rami Malek took home his first and only award. Other firsts included Idris Elba for Best Actor in BBC’s “Luther” miniseries and Mayim Bialik for Supporting Actress on “Big Bang Theory.” Netflix’s “Master of None” caused a stir by receiving the Best Comedy Series award. (Although the Critics’ Choice Awards is well-respected, it is important to note that its nominations had no notable bearing to the outcome of the Oscars.)
On Jan. 30th, the 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) aired simultaneously on TNT and TBS. The SAG Awards honor acting achievements in film and television, as decided by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Each winner is awarded a statuette referred to as “The Actor.” Reacting to the whiteness of the Academy Awards’ nominees, the Screen Actors Guild seemed to celebrate diversity with its choice of winners. Idris Elba received his first SAG for his supporting role in Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation” and his second award for his lead television role in “Luther,” while Queen Latifah won for her performance in “Bessie,” a HBO television movie. Additionally, Viola Davis and Kevin Spacey took home awards for their dramatic performances in “How To Get Away With Murder” and “House of Cards,” respectively. Jeffrey Tambor and Uzo Aduba received the Actor for their disparate comedic performances. Later, the cast of “Orange Is The New Black” won for Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series, their second award in the category, and “Spotlight” won for Outstanding Cast, nudging them closer to Best Picture at the Oscars. Leonardo DiCaprio and Brie Larson secured SAGs for “The Revenant” and “Room,” respectively and remain frontrunners for the Best Actor and Actress Academy Awards. Alicia Vikander won for her performance in “The Danish Girl,” making the race for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar tighter for Kate Winslet. The Screen Actors Guild honored Carol Burnett with the Life Achievement Award, which was presented by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Ultimately, the SAG Awards aired without a hitch and set a precedent for minorities involved in the industry.
The Producers Guild Awards, which aired on Jan. 23, are regarded as the most reliable predictor of Oscar success: over the 27 years of its tenure, 19 of its winners have also taken home the Academy Award for Best Picture. This year, the Producers Guild established “The Big Short” as the potential winner of an Academy Award. Likewise, the 68th Directors Guild of America Awards on Feb. 6th will hint at the winner of the Academy Award for Best Director, and the 68th Writers Guild of America Awards on February 13th for the two Best Screenplay awards. Perhaps most critical to Oscars success, however, are the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Awards. The February 14th ceremony will help Academy voters determine winners. If Leonardo DiCaprio wins the BAFTA for best actor, he will become the forerunner and the guaranteed winner of the Oscar for Best Actor, as will Brie Larson for Best Actress.
The 88th Academy Awards will air Feb. 28th on ABC and will be hosted by Chris Rock. Commonly referred to as the Oscars, the Academy Awards are viewed as the zenith of film awards. In the wake of the controversy over the Oscars’ lack of diversity, it will be interesting to see how the ceremony brings an end to this great year in film.