Actress Rebel Wilson will host the Bafta Film Awards this year, the British Academy has announced. She will take over from Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman, who hosted a sparse and largely virtual ceremony last year amid lockdown restrictions.
However, the Baftas could face a headache after Hollywood’s Critics Choice Awards announced they would take place on the same day, 13 March. Some stars will be nominated for both and so have to choose which to attend.
The Critics Choice ceremony was due to be held this month, but was delayed because of the Omicron variant of Covid. So what can we expect from Wilson and the Baftas, and what is the current state of this year’s awards season?
Rebel Wilson is an excellent choice for the Baftas – the Australian comic actress has gone viral twice in the past after stealing the show at the ceremony while presenting individual categories.
At the 2016 ceremony, which took place on 14 February, she told Idris Elba he was making her nervous because she was “sociologically programmed to want chocolate on Valentine’s Day”, getting the biggest laugh of the night.
She received an even more rapturous response in 2020, when she told the audience she was wearing black because she had “just come from a funeral” for “the feature film Cats” – the critically-panned movie she had just appeared in.
Wilson, who has also starred in Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect and JoJo Rabbit, will bring some Hollywood stardust to the Baftas, improve the entertainment value and hopefully provide some viral moments for the all-important YouTube and social media audience.
Hiring acerbic comics like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler has previously worked well for the Golden Globes
In an era of plummeting viewing figures for awards shows,
she is an inspired choice by the British Academy and arguably straight out of the playbook of the Golden Globes – a ceremony that traditionally hired acerbic hosts to lighten the mood and make fun of the A-list nominees in attendance.
In a statement, Wilson said she was “very honoured” to be hosting and gave a flavour of what to expect on the night. By the time the ceremony comes around, she said, “Covid will no longer exist because it will clearly have been cancelled by then”.
She continued: “I don’t wanna put any pressure on this – I know I’m not going to be funny because I am no longer fat,” referring to her much publicised recent weight loss.
Rebel Wilson reflects on her decision to lose weight during her “year of health” It hasn’t been smooth sailing for the Baftas this week, however.
Thursday’s announcement from Critics Choice organisers means the British awards body suddenly has competition on the long-planned date of its film ceremony.
This puts many potential attendees in a pickle. The Baftas host the more prestigious event, which normally attracts many of the big-name nominees and is traditionally a stronger Oscars indicator.
Last year, the Bafta winners matched the Oscars in all six top categories, against the Critics Choice’s three. But the Critics Choice ceremony has become more prominent in the awards season in recent years – and it takes place in California.
Omicron is still a big concern on both sides of the Atlantic, and it’s not hard to imagine US-based nominees choosing to attend the critics’ bash rather than getting on a flight to the UK.
Last year’s Bafta Film Awards ceremony was hosted by Dermot O’Leary and Edith Bowman
Critics Choice president Joey Berlin said there was “literally no other choice” than 13 March, due to other events taking place in Los Angeles every other Sunday that month.
The TV network broadcasting the ceremony needs the Critics Choice Awards to take place on a Sunday for scheduling reasons.
“[Bafta] were really gracious,” Berlin told The Hollywood Reporter. “I put out there that we’ll host the Bafta nominees who are in LA at the Fairmont [Hotel] for breakfast, and they can be live via satellite. “The Bafta Awards are due to start eight hours before the Critics Choice Awards.
In a statement, Bafta said it understood the “unprecedented circumstances” that led to the date change, but also provided a slightly barbed response to the suggestion of winners accepting awards remotely.
“There are no changes to our current plans for an in person event for the EE British Academy Film Awards on 13 March,” a spokesman said. “We look forward to welcoming everyone to London’s Royal Albert Hall for a safe and memorable event. There are no current plans for any satellite link up.”