Awards Season Showdown: Oscars v. Golden Globes

By Scott Huver | January 4, 2019 | Culture

The Oscars vs. the Golden Globes! When it comes to Hollywood's two biggest, baddest "celeb"-rations, which comes up a winner?

oscars.jpgThe paparazzi doing their thing at the 85th Annual Academy Awards.

Hollywood awards ceremonies can certainly bring out a competitive spirit among Industry A-listers—and, on occasion, some decidedly heated rivalries. But how do the two biggest heavyweights of the season stack up against each other?

In the battle between the Golden Globe Awards—traditionally the freewheeling kickoff of the annual trophy derbies—and the Academy Awards—long considered the epic ne plus ultra of statuette ceremonies—Los Angeles Confidential, with some help from familiar faces at both, evaluates each event’s edge in the great awards-show showdown.

The Scene

beyonce-solange.jpgSolange and Beyoncé at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

The Globes are well-established as intimate, easygoing and well-lubricated, with iconic movie stars mixing, mingling and sometimes downright fanning out over the top names in TV. It’s a clubby, cheek-kissing affair that can often launch or cap off a brilliant career in the entertainment industry, the whole cloaked in a distinct “you’re one of us” vibe. “The Golden Globes are a much better party,” says Globe and Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, “just being in the room and being able to hobnob.”

Conversely, the Oscars are a grand-scale splashy, over-the-top elegant and far more imposing—and thus more nerve-wracking—occasion where some of the most famous faces in modern culture, from sports to politics to music, may show up. For all the personal and professional bragging rights they endow as the granddaddy of entertainment accolades, they also carry the heavy weight of history and the scrutiny of the world stage. “The Oscars is at the end of this whole thing and is the pinnacle of the entire season,” says director Alfonso Cuarón, another recipient of both trophies.

The Venues

leo-emma.jpgLeonardo DiCaprio and Emma Stone, winner of Best Actress for La La Land, backstage at the 89th Annual Academy Awards.

Both ceremonies take place in well-established, nigh-permanent homes. The Beverly Hilton Hotel’s International Ballroom, the Globes’ host since 1961, gets extraglammed up from its usual dinner-of-the-week glitz, even as stars and star-makers are squeezed into every available square inch of the space—a near-literal elbow-rubbing coziness offset by the hotel’s rich cachet of Hollywood history. The Beverly Hills address offers easy access for limo caravans and shuttles from Century City, and hotel guests are allowed to gather in the lobby bar to stargaze.

Meanwhile, the Dolby Theatre, the Academy ceremony’s epicenter since its debut in 2001 (as the Kodak Theatre until 2012), is massive, modern and monumental. If it seems like its faux art deco environs were designed specifically for hosting Oscar nights, well, they were, with nearly 3,500 seats, the kind of state-of-theart sound technology its name implies and that stunning Grand Staircase whisking one into the ceremony in true star style. As uberglam as it appears, the downside is its location at Hollywood & Highland, where Hollywood Boulevard’s grunginess is only thinly papered over, and navigating your driver into the limo flow to the runway-sized red carpet can be a multihour effort.

The Dinner

dinner.jpgThe 83rd Annual Academy Awards Governors Ball.

The Golden Globe menu—prepared by the Hilton’s executive chef, Alberico Nunziata, and his culinary crew, who up their game considerably from the hotel’s standard banquet fare with celebrity diet-sensitive choices that are healthy and familiar but never boring—is served in the ballroom theater-style before the televised ceremony begins, with high-end wine, Champagne and cocktails flowing throughout the night.

The Academy’s spectacularly lavish dinner, the Governors Ball in the Ray Dolby Ballroom above the theater, isn’t served until the end of the typically three-plus-hour ceremony (though you can duck out to the Dolby’s lobby bars during commercial breaks), but is considered well worth the extra wait. The prototypical celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck, and his team have been crafting the chichi menu—sumptuous but with an eye for avoiding messy sartorial disasters—for a quarter-century, capped off with gold-dusted chocolate Oscars. Naturally.

“At the Globes, you go and have dinner and there’s alcohol. At the Oscars, you’re always starving because you’ve been trying to fit into a dress,” says Globe and Oscar winner Charlize Theron, who’s dined at both fetes. “If you’re lucky enough, you have a host like Jimmy Kimmel or Seth MacFarlane who throws you snacks!”

The Afterparties

leto-and-redmayne.jpgJared Leto and Eddie Redmayne let their hair down at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party.

The Hilton hosts all of the major studio and network Globes afterparties on-site (minus a few top talent agency after-after-bashes scattered around the 90210 zip code), making it easy for each event’s invited guests to partyhop on foot. That said, the quality of the satellite parties, increasingly packed with corporate sponsors, can wax and wane depending on the host’s current Hollywood fortunes. Only the InStyle/Warner Bros and HBO bashes have retained consistent A-list allure in recent years—and most start clearing out after midnight.

Meanwhile, Oscars guests typically make rote appearances at the on-site Governors Ball for an hour or two before scattering to the winds across LA, limoed to various must-stops, which can include anything from official film studio parties to fetes thrown by media elite, luxury brands or charitable causes, where you’ll rarely spy more than a dozen or two famous faces in any given crowd. But the starriest of the stars do tend to reconvene at the more-elite-than-elite annual Vanity Fair bash, where they might continue to swig Champagne and even—gasp!—smoke a cigarette or two until 3 a.m., finally getting a chance to really let their hair down. The only more reliable spot for star-spotting at that hour is the drive-thru window of In-N-Out.

The Prestige

big-little-lies.jpgLaura Dern, Nicole Kidman, Zoe Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley show some love for their win for Big Little Lies at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards last year.

A Globe trophy is presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a cadre of less than 100 international journalists covering the entertainment industry, while an Oscar is bestowed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ membership, a body of around 6,000 of the top artists and craftspeople in their filmmaking fields. So the deeper meaning of either statuette is, of course, subject to the personal perspective of the honoree—as is the experience of attending!

“They’re both amazing, they’re just different,” says Theron. “At one, you’re sitting in a theater and you’re watching something, and the other thing is more like a party.”

In the end, Cuarón suggests, both occasions, at either end of the awards season, are fueled far more by camaraderie than by competition. “You’re always surrounded by friends,” he says. “Because it’s a long season, you bump into old friends, you make new friends and then you just keep on hanging out with them throughout the whole season. It’s fun!”

The Trophies

oprah.jpgOprah Winfrey accepts the 2018 Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

For the past decade, the Golden Globe trophy has come with a lot of heft with its distinctive blocky marble base, which had made it difficult to lug around all night. This year, a redesigned, streamlined award is being unveiled sans marble—at 11 1/2 inches and 7.8 pounds, it’s taller and heavier, and now brassier and bronzer. Even though the majestic yet intimate-feeling Oscar is taller and heavier still—at 13 ½ inches and 8.5 pounds—the sleek, streamlined statuette is uniquely totable, well-suited to be clutched to the notable bosoms of superstars from party to party in soon-to-be iconic photos.

For a long time, the Oscar had the advantage of having the winner’s name engraved on-site at the Governors Ball shortly after their victory rather than the few weeks turnaround it takes today. Upping the ante, in 2018 the Globes added a night-of afterparty with a trophy engraving station. “They did spell [my name] right and I’m thrilled,” Allison Janney told Variety at last year’s soiree. “I checked it before they glued it on there.”