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The Golden Globes and Critics Choice faceoff adds off-screen drama to awards season

After a scandal-plagued year that forced the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to announce an overhaul of its membership ranks and prompted NBC to drop the annual telecast, the organization has opted to forge ahead with its awards despite the lack of a TV showcase. But that has spurred acrimony and confusion with another presentation, the Critics Choice Awards, which moved into the Globes’ Jan. 9 slot and will be televised on the CW and TBS, which, like CNN, is a unit of WarnerMedia.
The HFPA has cited continuity as a reason for proceeding with its awards, unveiling its nominations Monday, along with a detailed breakdown of all the reforms that have been implemented. Those changes include seeking to add greater diversity to its membership and addressing perceived ethical lapses involving some members, after the Los Angeles Times’ extensive reporting about the group earlier this year.

In the interim, though, there will be two award shows on Jan. 9, one (the Globes) with the historically higher profile, the other (Critics Choice) with the benefit of airing on TV.

When the HFPA announced its plans in October, Critics Choice CEO Joey Berlin called the move “petty and vindictive” as well as “an insult to the industry.”

The competing scenario has seemingly befuddled Hollywood and those charged with seeking whatever advantages they can in an awards race that, fueled by the pandemic, has muddied the outlook for contenders.

Beyond that, the steep decline for award-show ratings through 2021 has invited questions about the extent to which any of this matters. The overall malaise culminated with a drop of nearly 60% for the Oscars, offering reason to wonder whether the customary hoopla surrounding “awards season” is still worth all the fuss.
Studios, networks, streaming services and their marketing apparatus surely think so, which explains a Business Insider story that found while Hollywood has collectively sought to distance itself from the HFPA until true reforms are enacted, some have quietly courted consideration from the group. It wouldn’t be the first time that Oscar campaigning has strayed into gray areas.

As for this year’s nominees, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV+ have mounted their own push for attention by supporting smaller-boned movies that have struggled at the box office. While those services don’t share detailed data about who’s watching them on TV, the prestige and publicity associated with nominations is apparently viewed as compensation enough for their subscription-driven business models.

Founded in the 1990s, the Critics Choice Awards don’t share the Globes’ long history. The group consists of almost 500 radio, online and broadcast journalists.

Despite the feuding over their shared date, the two groups overwhelmingly agreed on their choices, overlapping in nine of the 10 slots for best picture, which the Globes split between drama and musical or comedy. The lone departure was director Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” which was included by Critics Choice members, while the Globes went with the upcoming musical “Cyrano,” starring “Game of Thrones'” Peter Dinklage.

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