Precursor History

The Academy Awards is one of the few major prizes that has generated more than its fair share of preliminary contests, frequently known as precursors. These precursors sometimes influence, sometimes prognosticate and sometimes go their own way. Below are the precursor awards that precede the Academy Awards.

There are three groups that are highlighted here. Industry Guilds, other Organizations and Critics. As an added bonus, I’ve created a separate page that shows when each group started handing out awards. The list will be sorted alphabetically by group, chronologically by group and chronologically in comparison. Some of these even pre-date the Oscars if you can believe it.

Check the Chronology Here

NOTE: The below list is incomplete and will be updated over time. Currently, only the Industry Guilds are posted. The Critics and Organizations sections will be processed later. Additionally, this does not include accuracy data, though it does contain comparisons to the Oscars. Over time, we’ll also be adding statistics for each of these groups.

Industry Guilds

These guilds are composed of those who work directly in the motion picture. Each one likely contains the vast majority of Oscar members in that discipline, but there are plenty of guild members who are not Academy members. As such, their prognosticative powers have varying degrees of success. Of the three sets of precursors, these groups typically have the most influence over the Oscars, offering up what the guilds think about films and giving those not as familiar with those technical aspects an opportunity to see what their peers think.

Each Guild typically compares to only one or a small number of categories at the Oscars. With each link is a list correlations (the direct category influence the guild has). These are the Oscar comparisons made on each page. Other possible category influences are highlighted, but not currently displaying Oscar comparisons. These comparison will be added at a later date.

Producers Guild of America (Corollary: Picture, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature)
Annie Awards (Corollary: Animated Feature, Animated Short Film)
Directors Guild of America (Corollary: Director; Other Influences: Picture)
Screen Actors Guild (Corollary: Picture {Cast}, Actor, Actress, Supporing Actor, Supporting Actress)
Writers Guild of America (Corollary: Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay; Other Influences: Picture, Documentary Feature)
(2020 Updated) American Cinema Editors (Corollary: Editing; Other Influences: Picture, Animated Feature, Documentary Feature)
American Society of Cinematographers (Corollary: Cinematography)
Art Directors Guild (Corollary: Production Design)
Costume Designers Guild (Corollary: Costume Design)
Hollywood Make Up & Hair Stylists Guild (Corollary: Makeup & Hairstyling)
Cinema Audio Society (Corollary: Sound Mixing)
Motion Picture Sound Editors (Corollary: Sound Editing)
Visual Effects Society (Corollary: Visual Effects)

Other Organizations

While guilds are entirely composed of industry professionals and most of the critics groups are active working professional film critics, some groups that act as precursors are comprised of other individuals, whether it’s international journalists covering Hollywood in a non-criticism capacity capacity (Golden Globes and Satellites), film professionals and non-professionals combined (AFI, Spirit Awards and USC Scripter), regular film buffs (OFTA), or organizations that are filled with industry professionals, but in a capacity similar to that of the Academy or which aren’t technically guilds (BAFTA and the Grammys).

These other organizations are given a separate classification as some of them act as directly influential while others just like to have their own opinions heard.

American Film Institute (Corollary: Picture)
British Academy Awards
Golden Globes
Grammy Awards
Online Film & Television Association
Satellite Awards
Spirit Awards
USC Scripter (Corollary: Adapted Screenplay)

Critics Groups

Before the 1990’s, film critics organizations were limited to major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. With the advent of the internet, the number of critics groups increased dramatically through the decade coming to a head in the early 2000’s. Since then, new groups have founded, but at a far lower rate than previously. Some groups focus their efforts on selecting the films and performances that are most likely to win the Oscars, while others want to recognized the truly best films and performances of the year. As such, critics have been chastised and ignored depending on their proclivities, while some entirely dismiss their relevance.

There is still some influence going into their decisions and those that focus on prognostication over honoring the best tend to have a stronger track record with Oscar than those who go out of their way to select odd and unusual winners. Regardless, critics have been a part of the precursor game for decades. The National Board of Review itself even predates the Oscars, though they weren’t giving awards before then. Below are all of the active critics groups and their histories.

Austin Film Critics Association
Boston Online Film Critics Society
Boston Society of Film Critics
Broadcast Film Critics Association
Chicago Film Critics
Central Ohio Film Critica Association
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association
Detroit Film Critics Society
Florida Film Critics
Georgia Film Critics Association
Houston Film Critics
Indiana Film Journalists Association
Iowa Film Critics
Kansas City Film Critics Circle
Las Vegas Film Critics Society
London Film Critics Circle
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
National Board of Review
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics Circle
New York Online Film Critics
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
Online Film Critics Society
Phoenix Film Critics Society
San Diego Film Critics Society
San Francisco Film Critics Circle
Seattle Film Critics
Southeastern Film Critics Association
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association
Toronto Film Critica Association
Utah Film Critics
Vancover Film Critics Circle
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association

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