Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama

Los Angeles

On Oscar night, as the media waited backstage for Matthew McConaughey to face them following his Best Actor win, many in the press room could not stop talking about the 44-year-old Texan’s latest performance. McConaughey may have won the Academy Award for his turn as Aids patient and activist Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club, but watching him accept it that evening meant missing the latest episode of True Detective.

McConaughey is now the favourite to win Best Actor in a Drama at the Emmy Awards on Monday, for his role in the gripping HBO drama – yet another sign that the worlds of cinema and quality television are converging, with television increasingly seen as the prestige medium.

If McConaughey triumphs again, he will be only the second man ever to be awarded an Oscar and an Emmy in the same year. The first was George C Scott in 1971 – and he famously refused his Oscar, saying awards races were “demeaning”.

According to Tom O’Neil, founder of the prediction site GoldDerby.com, the engraving on McConaughey’s Oscar might read Dallas Buyers Club, but he won the award thanks to the buzz around True Detective at voting time. “Leonardo DiCaprio [nominated for The Wolf of Wall Street] mounted a brilliant campaign,” O’Neil said, “but it was True Detective that put Matthew back out in front. I think that’s why he won the Oscar.”

Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for best actor Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for best actor The Emmys have long been considered the lesser of the two awards shows. When she hosted the ceremony in 2005, Ellen Degeneres joked, “But seriously, I think overall in the scheme of things winning an Emmy is not important. Let’s get our priorities straight. I think we all know what’s really important in life – winning an Oscar.” (The following year, she hosted the Oscars.)

But Oscar’s cultural supremacy is no longer so assured. At the Golden Globes, which celebrates both television and film, the traditional hierarchy has broken down as the names featured in the separate categories gradually become interchangeable. At this year’s Emmys, the nominees include an unprecedented number of former Oscar-winners.

Among those nominated in the acting categories are Kevin Spacey, Jane Fonda, Jon Voight and Julia Roberts. Oscar-winners Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates have Emmy nods for roles in the same television show, American Horror Story: Coven. Jodie Foster, the winner of two Oscars for Best Actress, has an Emmy nomination for directing an episode of Orange is the New Black.

Brad Pitt, who this year shared the Oscar for Best Picture as a producer of 12 Years a Slave, is expected to share an Emmy for Best TV Movie as a producer of the HBO drama The Normal Heart. The Oscar-winning film Fargo was recently turned into a television series starring Billy Bob Thornton, and is now an Emmy contender. Thornton has referred to the show not as a television series, but as a “10-hour movie”. Spacey, similarly, has described his hit Netflix series House of Cards as a “13-hour movie”.

“We still have a phoney reverence for the ‘Silver Screen’ over the ‘Boob Tube’,” O’Neil says. “It’s not necessarily borne out by reality. Most of the stuff at the cinema is pretty awful, and the stuff on quality TV is often vastly underrated. Hour-for-hour, there’s much more great drama on television than at the theatres.”

Over Emmy and Oscar’s past decade, the winning television dramas have often been richer and more resonant than the winning films. Compare The Sopranos to Million Dollar Baby in 2004, or Mad Men to The Artist in 2011 – even Breaking Bad to Argo in 2013. And then compare that to the 1970s, when Upstairs, Downstairs won three Best Drama Emmys in years when the Oscar was awarded to The Godfather Part II, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Annie Hall.

The start of the current golden age of television is often traced to The Sopranos, which debuted on HBO 15 years ago. At the time its stars, such as the late James Gandolfini, were well-respected but little-known. As television gained in stature, some film actors whose careers had dipped made the switch to the small screen, including Kiefer Sutherland (24) and Glenn Close (The Shield; Damages). But only in the past couple of years have major stars with thriving film careers begun taking on roles in television series.

“Billy Bob Thornton entered the industry in the 90s, and he says you just didn’t do television then if you wanted a film career,” said Tim Gray, the awards editor of Variety. “When Milos Forman was casting Amadeus, he specifically said that he wasn’t interested in auditioning TV actors. Once you made a film, you very rarely went back and did TV.”

The split has never been as pronounced in the UK, where actors such as Judi Dench or the Emmy-nominated Martin Freeman (Fargo) regularly move between mediums.

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
News
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
people
News
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?