After a one-year broadcast time out for bad behavior, the Golden Globes are back, putting into motion Hollywood's most intensive stretch of self-congratulation. For the next several weeks, leading up to the Oscars on March 12, there will be tears of joy, agents thanked and orchestras cued to prod the long-winded.
Which groups merit attention? Which ones deserve condescension? Put on your tux and grab some borrowed jewels as we run down the rankings.
15. Hollywood Critics Association Film Awards
Ranking rationale: This fledgling group (original name: Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society) was beset by accusations of financial impropriety and fraudulent voting tabulations last year. Several members resigned. Greater transparency promised.
High point: Improbable continued existence.
14. National Board of Review
Ranking rationale:The identities of this "select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals, academics and students" has always been a secret. And there's no transparency in their voting procedures. But they're (almost) first! And the early bird gets the headline — for a day, until actual, more legitimate groups start to weigh in.
High point: I'm sure they chose something worthy this year, but I've already forgotten what it was.
Low point: Nope. Sorry. I just looked it up. They named "Top Gun: Maverick" best picture.
13. Gotham Awards
Ranking rationale: Originally formed to honor movies made in the Northeast, the Gothams capitulated to recognizing Hollywood in 2004. Now it's basically an early Spirit Awards held in the dead of New York winter.
High point: Even earlier than the National Board of Review! And the party's always a good time! Just ask Adam Sandler.
Low point: Hard to take any awards show seriously when there are still Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge.
12. Annie Awards
Ranking rationale: From the Annies website: "Each year we dress up and get together like the other academies to honor our stars." Wait … animators dress up?
High point: The murderers' row of animators — Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Chuck Jones, Art Babbitt, Winsor McCay — honored for their careers in 1974.
Low point: Animators accuse DreamWorks exec Jeffrey Katzenberg of rigging the vote after his studio's "Kung Fu Panda" beats Pixar's demonstrably superior "Wall-E" in 2009. That led to a yearlong boycott, but the Mouse and the (How to Train Your) Dragon peacefully coexist now.
11. Critics Choice Awards
Established: 1996. The Broadcast Film Critics Association merged with the Broadcast Television Journalists Association in 2019.
Ranking rationale: Golden Globes wannabe plagued by the same issues — including questions over its integrity, governance and potential conflicts of interest — that have dogged the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. TV ratings have always been abysmal, even with Globes in the penalty box last year.
High point: An assembly line of awards shows celebrating Black cinema and TV, Latino cinema and TV, Asian Pacific cinema and TV, superhero and sci-fi movies (not cinema) and TV, keep the trophy-making industry gainfully employed during these trying times.
Low point: Palpable glee over HFPA's downturn fails to turn the group into Hollywood's chosen bunch of credibility-challenged, selfie-loving "critics."
10. Crafts guild awards
Established: Various and sundry times
Ranking rationale: All the guilds comprising the gifted people responsible for making movies truly special — cinematographers, costume and production designers, editors, sound, hair and makeup, visual effects (Have I forgotten to thank anybody? Sorry!) — host their own awards shows, too. And they know their (stuff). One example of many: The American Society of Cinematographers honored Roger Deakins 16 years before the Oscars.
High point: Depends on which justifiably proud parents you ask.
Low point: Depends on which justifiably angry parents you ask.
9. Writers Guild of America Awards
Ranking rationale: The nominations never include the entirety of the film year's best, as some screenwriters don't belong to the guild, and many movies are not guild signatories, making them ineligible.
High point: Harold Ramis, Elaine May, James L. Brooks, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel have picked up career honors in the last few years, showing that at least some group believes comic writing deserves recognition.
Low point: They also thought "Jojo Rabbit" deserved recognition.
8. Los Angeles Film Critics Association
New York Film Critics Circle
National Society of Film Critics
Established: 1975, 1935, 1966, respectively
Ranking rationale: LAFCA (of which I am a member) and NYFCC, early December voters, can establish an outsider movie's awards legitimacy. LAFCA was one of the first groups to recognize "Moonlight" in 2016. (New York with "La La Land," probably wishing they were here.)
High point: Last season, the three groups all honored the Japanese drama "Drive My Car," boosting Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's masterpiece into the Oscars' best picture race.
Low point: In 2011, the winners were "The Descendants" (LAFCA), "The Artist" (NYFCC) and "Melancholia" (NSFC). How did "The Tree of Life" go unrewarded???
7. British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards
Ranking rationale: Oscars equivalent for the tea-and-crumpet crowd. In 2001, BAFTA moved its ceremony date so it'd take place before the Oscars. As a few hundred BAFTA voters also belong to the motion picture academy, there's a little overlap.
High point: Picking "Boyhood" over "Birdman" in 2015.
Low point: BAFTA has never given Denzel Washington a nomination, much less a win. (He has nine Oscar nods for acting.)
6. Film Independent Spirit Awards
Ranking rationale: Loose ceremony held in a tent on the beach in Santa Monica, the day before the Oscars. After years of mirroring the academy's choices — "like the more festive-wear version of the Oscars," says filmmaker Tamara Jenkins — picks have become looser as well.
High point: Ellie Foumbi's psychological thriller "Our Father, the Devil," little seen outside of festivals, earned a best picture nomination this year.
Low point: "Silver Linings Playbook" won four Spirit Awards, including best picture, even though its budget should have disqualified it. An example of peak Harvey Weinstein bending the awards season to his will.
5. Golden Globes
Ranking rationale: NBC dumped the Golden Globes last year after a 2021 Times investigation turned up improprieties in the way the Hollywood Foreign Press Association ran its business. Now it's back on the network, but maybe only for a year. It's still in primetime, but on a Tuesday. And the HFPA has a new owner, a new for-profit status and a $75,000 annual income for members. What could go wrong?
High point: Survival.
Low point: Survival?
2. (tie) Producers Guild of America Awards
Ranking rationale: Uses the same preferential voting ballot that the academy employs, meaning its winner more often than not goes on to take best picture. Except when it doesn't, as was the case when Bong Joon Ho's "Parasite" steamrolled PGA winner "1917" three years ago.
High point: The top-prize tie between "12 Years a Slave" and "Gravity" in 2014 made pundits' heads explode.
Low point: "Driving Miss Daisy" won its inaugural prize. Things could only get better.
2. (tie) Directors Guild of America Awards
Ranking rationale: Almost an ironclad Oscar predictor, as only eight DGA winners have not gone on to win the Academy Award, most recently Sam Mendes, also done in by "Parasite" and director Bong.
High point: Kathryn Bigelow wins for "The Hurt Locker," becoming the first woman to take the top prize.
Low point: The hubbub over Jane Campion calling Sam Elliott "a little bit of a b-i-t-c-h" last year.
2. (tie) Screen Actors Guild Awards
Ranking rationale: Like the PGA and the DGA, remarkably predictive of the Oscars, though there are exceptions. (Sorry, Glenn Close.)
High point:The SAG ensemble presentation is always a delight. Who doesn't enjoy a giddy reunion?
Low point: After having aired on TNT since 1998 (and later simulcast on TNT), the show currently has no broadcast partner.
1. The Oscars
Ranking rationale: They're the reason for the season!
High point: Bong wins the Oscar for directing "Parasite," gives a shout-out to Martin Scorsese during his speech, prompting a spontaneous standing ovation. Also: Cher + designer Bob Mackie, particularly the year she wore that feathered headdress.
Low point: That whole thing that happened last year.