• Val Agnew

Golden Globes vs. SAG Awards: Did Anyone Get it Right?


When the Golden Globes first posted their nominations for this year's awards, there was a decent amount of ire. The two biggest complaints were that James Corden had been nominated for, what many found an offensive portrayal of a gay man in The Prom. The second big problem a number of people had was with Michaela Coel, a Black woman, being snubbed for her performance in I May Destroy You. I haven't yet seen the limited series myself, but I've seen Michaela Coel in other things and I'm certain she did a wonderful job.


After the initial rage at the Golden Globes, almost as if in response, the SAG Awards released their nominations. And a lot of people heralded them for righting the wrongs of the Golden Globes. They did indeed nominate Michaela Coel. SAG doesn't have the same category that James Corden was nominated in so they didn't even have to wade into those waters. But did they get it right in other ways? I decided to try to find out. I took a deep dive into the acting nominations of both awards.


The primary way I could evaluate and compare the two slates of acting nominations was on racial diversity. I want to once again note that this is based on my knowledge of these actors and, for the few I didn't already know, my eye-balling of their physical appearance on IMDB. So I may have made a mistake somewhere, but since most of these people are quite well known I feel more confident about my knowledge in this area than I did for the Netflix analysis I recently did. And as I mentioned in that previous analysis, I unfortunately cannot make comparisons on things I cannot visually assess effectively.


Since the categories are already separated by gender (which is going to have to be a larger conversation they should really have already been having) that is not something where there is difference in each category. I also limited my comparisons within each category because, for example, people arguing that Meryl Streep should have been nominated rather than James Corden for The Prom may not really make sense because perhaps she didn't even put in for the nomination. And even if she did, she may have been up against more great performances when here were fewer to choose from in the male category this year.


There are a couple assumptions I'm making in this analysis. I'm assuming that both The Golden Globes and SAG were selecting from roughly the same pool of films, shows, and actors for each category. The way these awards nominations work is each actor submits for it, using self-selected clips as samples of their work. So I have to assume that they put in for both awards because it wouldn't make sense from a marketing perspective not to. Thus, by extension, the nominating committees were considering the same slate of people from the same slate of movies/shows/series.


I looked into how the nominees are selected for each award. There isn't a ton of information out there, but from what I could deduce, the Golden Globes allow their entire membership to rank-choice vote their top 5 in each category from everyone who has submitted themselves. SAG randomly selects a committee out of their membership to vote on nominees and then the entire membership votes on the winner. It's hard to say how these two different methods would affect the resulting nomination slates. I think the bigger question is whether each group's membership is diverse enough in and of itself so that no matter what method is used, there are representative voters.


One last thing to keep in mind before I give the results: Because these two awards have slightly different categories, there are a couple instances where someone was nominated in one category for The Golden Globes and another for SAG. This definitely could mess with the comparison. I will note that when it occurs.


OK so what did I find?


FILM CATEGORIES


Male Actor in a Drama

GG 40% White = SAG 40% White


The only difference between the nomination slates was GG nominated Tahar Rahim and SAG nominated Steven Yeun -- both are People of Color so the percentage remained the same



Female Actor in a Drama

GG 60% White < SAG 80% White


The only difference between the nomination slates was GG nominated Andra Day, a Black woman, and SAG nominated Amy Adams, a white woman.



Male Supporting Actor

GG 60% White > SAG 40% White


The only difference between the nomination slates was GG nominated Bill Murray, a white man, and SAG nominated Chadwick Boseman, a Black man.



Female Supporting Actor

GG 100% White > SAG 60% White


There were two differences in this slate. GG nominated Amanda Seyfried and Jodie Foster, both white, while SAG nominated Youn Yuh-Jung, a Woman of Color, and Maria Bakalova, a white woman. Maria Bakalova was nominated for a Golden Globe in Best Female Actor in a Comedy, a category SAG does not have, meaning she effectively took a slot in the supporting female actor category that could have gone to someone else if they had both categories.




TELEVISION CATEGORIES


Male Actor in a Drama

GG 100% White > SAG 60% White


The two differences in the slates were The Golden Globes nominating Al Pacino and Matthew Rhys, two white men, compared to SAG nominating Sterling K. Brown and Rege-Jean Page, two Black men.



Female Actor in a Drama

GG 100% White = SAG 100% White


While there are two differences in nominations (Sarah Paulsen & Jodie Comer for The Golden Globes vs Julia Garner & Gillian Anderson for SAG), they were all white women so it didn't affect the proportions. Both Julia Garner and Gillian Anderson were nominated in a different category in the Golden Globes that doesn't exist for SAG, but clearly their spots were filled with other white women so it didn't make a difference.



Male Actor in a Comedy

GG 60% White < SAG 80% White


The one difference between the nomination slates was the Golden Globes nominated Don Cheadle, a Black man, and SAG nominated Dan Levy, a white man. Dan Levy was nominated in another category for The Golden Globes, so this is an instance where a lack of categories may have actually reduced the amount of space for equitable representation.



Female Actor in a Comedy

GG 100% White = SAG 100% White


This was the category with the least overlap in nominations, with 3 of the 5 nominations going to different women, but in both cases they were all white, so it didn't change the racial breakdown of the slate. Like Dan Levy in the previous category, Annie Murphy was nominated in a different category for The Golden Globes and theoretically could have freed up a slot for someone else, but it doesn't appear to have made any difference from a racial perspective.



Male Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

GG 100% White > SAG 80% White


The two differences in the slates were Bryan Cranston and Jeff Daniels (two white men) were nominated for The Golden Globes while Bill Camp, a white man, and Daveed Diggs, a Black man, were nominated by SAG.



Female Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie

GG 100% White > SAG 60% White


The two differences in the slates were Shira Haas and Daisy Edgar-Jones (two white women) were nominated for Golden Globes while Kerry Washington and Michaela Coel, two Black women, were nominated by SAG.




OVERALL TAKEAWAYS

  • While it is not consistent, more often than not The Golden Globes' slates of nominees were less diverse than those of SAG

  • The only two categories that had more BIPOC actors than white were Best Male Actor in a Drama Film for both slates and Best Supporting Male Actor only for SAG

  • Television categories overall had less representation, the worst being among the female actor categories

This analysis obviously doesn't necessarily indicate a trend, as I only evaluated this one year's nominees and only in categories where there was direct overlap. However, it does certainly highlight an overall shortcoming in the nominee evaluation process, especially for The Golden Globes. I find it interesting that even though the Golden Globes had more categories, allowing them theoretically more space to highlight more people's work, they still managed to have less diversity in their nominations than SAG.


I also found it particularly strange that while there are most certainly more television shows in general than movies and many with plenty of diversity in their casts that the television nominations were more white than the film nominations overall. It is impossible to know if this issue is with selection or with investment in nomination campaigns or a combination of both. The Crown, Ozark, Dead to Me, and Schitt's Creek, all took up multiple nomination slots in the same categories and these are all predominantly white casts. But why were they able to land so many slots? Did they just have more money to invest in the nomination campaigns for their actors? Probably. It's kind of how I wish there wasn't money in politics, because who ultimately gets elected is the person who can raise the most money rather than the best person for the job. Similarly here, the actors and shows that have the most money to invest in their campaigns will drown out those who maybe don't. I can't say for sure that's the culprit, but it certainly is a strong possibility.


What do you think? What would be the best way to fix this? Is it an issue farther up the chain? Are there enough shows and films with diverse casts being made at all? Is the issue in the campaign phase? In the selection process? All of the above?

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