AFI, BAFTA Awards Events Set Up an Awards Season Battle

The events are usually timed to coincide with the Golden Globes, but in January they’ll take place just before the Critics Choice Awards

2022 AFI Awards luncheon / Getty Images

Ordinarily, the announcement of early-January dates for the AFI Awards luncheon and the BAFTA Los Angeles Awards Season Tea Party would be just a blip early in awards season.

This year, though, those announcements, both of which came on Thursday, set up an interesting quandary for the embattled Golden Globe Awards, and a potential opportunity for the Critics Choice Awards.

The AFI Awards, an annual lunch that celebrates the films and TV shows that have been named the year’s 10 best, will take place at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. The following afternoon, the BAFTA Tea Party will return to that same hotel for the first time in two years, and will likely showcase its usual array of talent from the year’s top films and programs.

In the past, the AFI lunch and BAFTA tea have been part of one of awards season’s most crowded weekends, which typically also includes the Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominees Brunch and an array of studio parties. That weekend has always culminated in the Golden Globe Awards on Sunday – and, in fact, it’s the Globes’ presence that made it an ideal time for AFI and BAFTA to schedule their soirees, because they knew the stars would be in town that weekend.

This year, though, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is still fighting to bring back the Globes, which were held as a private, untelevised event last year in the midst of controversy over the HFPA’s ethical lapses and absence of Black voters. If they do manage to bring the show back to NBC, as recent reports suggest they may, the normal Globes timetable would put the show on Sunday, Jan. 8 rather than Jan. 15.

(The last five shows in non-COVID years have taken place on Jan. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10. For the upcoming show, NBC has said only that it hopes to air the show in January 2023.)

That means the AFI Awards and BAFTA have chosen a weekend that under normal circumstances would not include the Golden Globes. But there is a similar awards show already scheduled for that weekend: the Critics Choice Awards. That relative upstart (though it’s been around since the mid-1990s) would like to be seen as a more principled and credible alternative to the Globes, and it claimed the Sunday, Jan. 15 slot last month.

Are the AFI and BAFTA casting their lot with Critics Choice over the Globes? Assuming they do revive the Globes, will the HFPA try to go head-to-head with Critics Choice by scheduling their show on the same day? (They tried that last year, until the pandemic forced the Critics Choice Association to delay its in-person show.)

At any rate, a sedate luncheon and a civilized tea party are now looking like awards-season battlegrounds. Much more to come.