What’s The Best Acting Award You Can Win? Awards Season, Explained

By Martha Davies

4 months ago

The ultimate guide to awards season 

It’s officially awards season, and as celebrities sweep red carpets and claim their trophies for all the buzziest film, TV and theatre projects, what does it all mean? If you don’t know your Emmys from your Tonys, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a guide to awards season.

A Guide To Awards Season

Emily Bunt in a gold sparkly dress at the Golden Globes.

Emily Blunt wears Alexander McQueen at the 81st Golden Globe Awards.

What Are The Golden Globes?

Focusing on film and TV, the Golden Globes aren’t quite as prestigious as the Oscars, but they’re not far behind. They also have a slightly broader focus, covering 27 categories in total. These are similar to those recognised at the Oscars, although the Best Picture category is split into Best Drama and Best Musical/Comedy.

When Does The Golden Globes Ceremony Take Place?

The Golden Globes traditionally kick off awards season, taking place in January every year. (The 2024 ceremony was held on 8 January.) Since they’re broadcast before the Oscars, the Golden Globes often (literally) set the stage for the biggest titles, giving us the first indication of which projects have been favoured by critics and which are likely to receive the most attention during awards shows throughout the year.

When Did The Golden Globes Start?

The first Golden Globes ceremony took place in January 1944. The award initially celebrated only filmmaking; the TV categories were not introduced until 1957. goldenglobes.com

What Are The Oscars?

Known officially as the Academy Awards, the Oscars recognise both artistic and technical merit within the film industry specifically, and they’re split into 24 categories.

Screenplays, documentaries, short films, animated films and foreign-language films are all celebrated at the Oscars, while awards for sound design, music, production, editing, visual effects & costume are also up for grabs. The most well-known categories at the Oscars, of course, are best picture, best actor/actress, and best director.

The Oscars are widely regarded as the most prestigious award an actor can win, forming part of an EGOT, which consists of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award. The EGOT acronym is used to honour actors who have won all four trophies, therefore achieving huge success across film, television, music and theatre (but only 17 actors have won an EGOT so far).

When Does The Oscars Ceremony Take Place?

The Oscars ceremony is held between February and March every year; this year’s ceremony will take place on 10 March 2024.

When Did The Oscars Start?

The inaugural Oscars ceremony took place in Los Angeles in May 1929, though the awards weren’t actually broadcast on TV until the 38th Oscars, in 1953. oscars.org

What Are The Emmy Awards?

The Emmy Awards recognise artistic and technical excellence within the television industry, both in America and internationally. The name ‘Emmy’ emerged from the term ‘Immy’ – once a nickname for the image orthicon tube, a component of early video cameras.

The Emmys are split into Daytime and Primetime Awards. The former is overseen by  the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and honours daytime, sports, news and documentary television, while the latter is overseen by the Television Academy and celebrates evening broadcasts. However, the growth of streaming platforms threatened to complicate this distinction; it was decided in 2021 that shows aired on streaming platforms would form part of the Primetime Emmys. International awards, meanwhile, are judged separately and are overseen by the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

There are 16 categories celebrated at the Emmys; these include dramatic series, comedy series, limited series and comedy shows. An overall winner is chosen from within each of these categories, and a best actor, actress, director and writer are also selected.

When Do The Emmys Take Place?

The Daytime Emmys usually take place in May or June, while the Primetime Emmys are normally held in mid-September – although the SAG-AFTRA strikes caused significant delays last year (so much so that the 2023 Emmys will now be held on 15 January 2024).

When Did The Emmys Start?

The first Emmy Awards (retrospectively the Primetime Emmys) were presented in Los Angeles in January 1949. The first dedicated Daytime Emmy ceremony was held in 1974. emmys.com

What Are The Tony Awards?

The Tonys are officially known as The Antoinette Perry Awards for Excellence in Broadway Theatre. They honour achievements within Broadway musicals, although they also recognise regional theatre productions.

Performance categories at the Tonys include leading and featured actors/actresses in both plays and musicals, while technical categories cover lighting, costume, choreography and score. There are also overall awards for best musical and best play, and there are 26 categories in total.

When Do The Tonys Take Place?

The Tonys are held annually on the second Sunday in June. 

When Did The Tonys Start?

The first Tonys ceremony took place in New York in April 1947, and the Tonys began to be broadcast from 1967. tonyawards.com

What Are The SAG Awards?

The Screen Actors Guild Awards are film and TV awards distributed by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). You’ll likely have heard about SAG-AFTRA due to the 2023 strike, which ran from July to November and saw actors campaign for better pay and working conditions within the entertainment industry. 

The SAG Awards are newer than most of the other entertainment awards, but they’re still highly regarded in Hollywood. They celebrate outstanding performances in film and primetime TV.

When Do The SAG Awards Take Place?

The SAG Awards are usually held in February every year.

When Did The SAG Awards Start?

The inaugural SAG Awards took place  in Los Angeles in February 1995. sagawards.org

So, What IS The Best Acting Award You Can Win?

While each of these awards is highly regarded within its own sphere of the entertainment industry, the Oscars and the Golden Globes are the heavy hitters. It’s widely considered that the most impressive acting award you can receive is an Oscar: more specifically, the Academy Award for Best Picture.