If award ceremonies were college bowl games

If one follows my twitter, they will soon learn that along with my appreciation for film, I also really enjoy sports, especially college football. I usually try to catch all the college football games and that definitely goes for the “bowl season,” a series of post-season competitions played by teams across the country who didn’t make the playoff.

The Rose Bowl Trophy.

When it comes to bowl games, there are some that are bigger than others, some that are more important than others and some more prestigious than others. Sound familiar to movie fans, right? It’s not all that different from award season.

An Academy Award.

With that in mind, it’s time to have some fun. If I had to equate the various award ceremonies with the many bowls of the college football season, I think it would look like this.

Hollywood Film Awards – The Cheez It Bowl


Formerly known as the Copper Bowl, Insight Bowl, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the Cactus Bowl, the Cheez It Bowl is played in Arizona and often includes teams that have barely made the bowl season, by finishing with a 6-6 record. In the grand scheme of things, it’s one of the lesser bowl games played annually.


Its counterpart is the Hollywood Film Awards. This ceremony is usually the first out of the gate, ahead of even the Gotham Awards. However, while some winners have gone on to have success down the line at the Oscars, the HFA is usually forgotten about by the time January rolls around. According to The Los Angeles Times, the winners are selected by a dozen “mysterious panelists.” Winners of the awards are also notified in advance of the event. It’s the first award ceremony of the season and one that has little impact when compared to others.

People’s Choice Awards – Quick Lane Bowl


I shouldn’t be too harsh on the Quick Lane Bowl, as my favorite division I team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, won it in 2015 and play in it Vs Georgia Tech later this month. However, it isn’t the most well liked bowl game out there. Just ask a Georgia Tech fan how they feel about playing in this bowl game. Many of them are quite upset about having to play the bowl game in Detroit in late December.


Likewise, the People’s Choice Awards are a mixed bag. They still honor movies, and it’s great the general public gets a chance to have their say. Yet the winners aren’t all that great. For example, the “Movie of 2018” was “Avengers: Infinity War.” I love the movie, but it’s not “movie of the year” level. Similar to the bowl trophy, it’s nice for the movies to have something to put on the mantle, but it’s not an ultimate prize.

New York Film Critics Circle – Liberty Bowl


The next few bowls all fall in a category where they’re not the biggest and best of the season, but they carry more weight than some of their counterparts. Similar to where critic association awards fall. The Liberty Bowl in particular has a fairly storied history, played since 1959, and often includes some solid teams.


The New York Film Critics Circle, meanwhile, represents the country’s huge media market and the awards are fairly meaningful.

Next up out of these types of bowls are:

  • The Los Angeles Film Critics Association – Independence Bowl.
  • Chicago Film Critics Association – Holiday Bowl.
  • Washington D.C. Film Critics Association -Military Bowl.
  • New York Film Critics Online – Pinstripe Bowl.
  • Boston Society of Film Critics – Music City Bowl,

National Board of Review – The Sun Bowl


The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures was founded in 1909. The Sun Bowl started in 1935 and is the second-oldest bowl game played in the country. Both have very rich histories and have their respected place in their respective seasons. The bowl usually features some above average teams and has had some exciting moments.


The National Board of Review, meanwhile, is an important part of award season’s early phase. It’s not on the level of some others, but it can help build momentum.

American Film Institute Awards – Camping World Bowl


The AFI and National Board of Review are very similar in their prestige and what it means for award season momentum.


The Camping World Bowl, formerly known as the Champs Sports Bowl, is also similar to the Sun Bowl in its level of competition. While not the best bowl, winning it is still a great way to cap off a season for teams that have had solid success, with many of the victors finishing in the Top 25.

Golden Globe Awards – Alamo Bowl


The Hollywood Foreign Press has made some bizarre choices in the past, resulting in Golden Globe selections that have been odd and in the end not all that important in the Oscar race. With that said, the ceremony is usually very entertaining and is still a good watch.


The same can be said about the Alamo Bowl. It’s not one of the top six bowls in the country, or included in the time-honored New Year’s Day lineup, but it’s always entertaining.

Here’s one example, the 2011 Alamo Bowl, where Baylor outscored Washington 67-56 in the highest scoring regulation bowl of all time. Another example was the 2016 Alamo Bowl where TCU defeated the University of Oregon in triple overtime, 47-41. In the 2016 edition, TCU trailed 31-0 at the half, before launching what’s now tied for the largest comeback in bowl history. The comeback it’s tied with is a game I don’t particularly like to remember, though.

Critics’ Choice Awards – Citrus Bowl


Now we’re getting into some of the bigger bowl games. First up is the Citrus Bowl, which very often features a pair of ranked teams that finished relatively high in their division or conference.


The Critics’ Choice Awards, meanwhile, usually put on a good show, honor some great films and overall function as a good cog for the award season wheel.

Spirit Awards – Outback Bowl | Gotham Awards – Gator Bowl



Two games that almost always play on New Year’s Day are the Outback Bowl and the Gator Bowl. Taking place on New Year’s Day, these bowls are special for the players, even if they’re not playing in top six. The teams aren’t always ranked, and if they are they’re usually in the teens or high 20s. However, they’re still important.

One of the more memorable moments from the Outback Bowl happened about five years ago with this:



The same can be said about both the Spirit Awards and Gotham Awards. Both ceremonies honor independent films that usually go on to have their own fair share of Oscar success. Not all of them do, though, and those that don’t get honored by the Academy still get some respect at these ceremonies.

Producers Guild Awards – Sugar Bowl


Historically, the Sugar Bowl has been the destination for some of the best teams from the SEC, one of the nation’s top conferences, and the site of several national championship games. Most of the time, either the title winner or one of the best teams in college football is crowned with the trophy when the clock hits zero.


It’s not all that different from the Producers Guild Awards. For example, from 2007-2014, and again in 2017, the winner of the PGA went on to earn the Best Picture award from the Oscars, too. Even when that wasn’t the case, like in 2015 and 2016, the winning movies were still considered some of the best from those years.

Directors Guild Award – Fiesta Bowl


The Fiesta Bowl only hosted two national title games during the BCS era, but it’s still a major factor during the season and has led to many great moments.  Here’s an example:


Likewise, the Directors Guild of America awards have often honored many deserving filmmakers, even when the films they helmed didn’t earn Best Picture. This occurred in both 2015 and 2016 with Alejandro Inarritu and Damien Chazelle respectively. It’s a prestigious ceremony and an important one.

Screen Actors Guild Awards – Orange Bowl


Some great college players have made a name for themselves at the Orange Bowl. Some names in the past few decades include Andrew Luck, Deshaun Watson, Matt Leinart and of course, Tom Brady.


Like the Orange Bowl, several great actors have built their Oscar campaigns on success at the SAG awards. Several times the winner of the SAG award went on to win the best acting category at the Oscars.

British Academy – Cotton Bowl


The Cotton Bowl is one of the more prestigious bowls to be played during the post season in college football, but for many years, it wasn’t the host for the national championship game. Just recently, it’s become a rotation host for the college football playoff. Regardless, it has been a top tier bowl.


So if the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, or BAFTA awards was a bowl, I’d say Cotton. It may not be an Oscar, and the winner of the BAFTA may not go on to win Best Picture from the Academy Awards, but it’s still a great honor to receive one.

Writers Guild of America Awards – Peach Bowl


Writers Guild of America is actually hard to pinpoint to one because there are two major winners from each ceremony, one for Original Screenplay and the other for Adapted Screenplay. One thing it is good at, though, is indicating who will snag the best writing Oscars, making it a significant part of award season, even if it doesn’t directly correlate to Best Picture.


I line it up with the Peach Bowl, mainly because in the grand scheme, the two seem fairly alike, with the Peach Bowl being another competition that’s important, but not on the level of say, Sugar or Fiesta (and it was the one top tier bowl left and I needed a last match so there was a little process of elimination).

Academy Awards – Rose Bowl


How could I not have the Academy Awards equate to the Rose Bowl. The football game is labeled the “granddaddy of them all,” it’s hosted national championship games and some of the best collegiate competitions of all time. Its prestige is basically unmatched and it has produced several memorable moments over the years.

Some examples:

For all intents and purposes, it’s the pinnacle of college football.


Likewise, the Academy Awards are the pinnacle of movie award season and there are also moments that will live on in the film industry. Love them or hate them, movie fans can’t deny the Oscars’ place in the industry.

Again, this was just for fun. If you have some ideas on what might be a better match, leave them below.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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