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‘Hamilton’ Fuels Debate Over Awards Eligibility

Pundits, prognosticators, and Academy members are weighing in on the musical’s future awards prospects.

Image from the movie "Hamilton" 2020
© "Hamilton" 2020 Walt Disney Pictures − All right reserved.

Since its release on Friday, Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Tony-winning musical, “Hamilton,” has sparked debates over its potential eligibility for Academy Awards consideration. Today, numerous outlets are reporting the musical is not, in fact, eligible.

Marc Malkin of Variety reported:

Disney had planned a theatrical release in October 2021 before dropping it early on its streaming service, but that’s not enough to qualify it for Oscar consideration. Though eligibility rules were amended in April to allow films with planned theatrical releases to compete, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, “Recorded stage productions are not eligible for consideration.”

The question of whether “Hamilton” could be considered arose from the precedent set by two previous Oscar-nominated stage productions. The first was the 1965 National Theater production of “Othello,” which earned four acting nominations for Lead Actor Laurence Olivier, supporting actor Frank Finlay, and supporting actresses Joyce Redman and Maggie Smith.

The other occurred in 1975 when James Whitmore was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in the one-man play, “Give ’em Hell, Harry!

In 1997, language was added to Rule 11, which is the section for rules specific to documentary film. That language says:

Works that are essentially promotional or instructional are not eligible, nor are works that are essentially unfiltered records of performances.

Nate Jones of Vulture writes:

…an AMPAS source says plainly that, as a recorded stage production, Hamilton is not eligible for awards consideration.

While this seems to settle the debate, it should be noted there has not been an official statement from AMPAS, nor has Disney announced any plans to campaign the production for Oscars.

Regardless of its future awards prospects, “Hamilton” and its stars have much to celebrate after Disney+ saw a surge in new subscriptions this Fourth of July holiday weekend. For four days, it has dominated discussions on social media and at backyard family barbecues.

“Hamilton” was directed by Thomas Kail and stars writer Lin-Manuel Miranda in the title role of founding father, Alexander Hamilton. The film stars original cast members Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Phillippa Soo, and Jonathan Groff. It was photographed and edited during live performances in 2016. Originally scheduled for theatrical release in October 2021, Disney chose to release it now, while captive audiences are still home during expansive quarantines.

For more information about how to view “Hamilton” on Disney+, visit the official website.

Should “Hamilton” be considered for Academy Awards? Comment below and weigh in!

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Written by Karen M. Peterson

Karen Peterson is a writer from Southern California. When she is not at the ballpark cheering on her LA Angels, she can usually be found in a movie theater or in front of the television. Karen is obsessed with awards shows, and loves everything from the smallest indie film to the biggest of big budget spectacles. She is also unapologetically in love with Tom Cruise.

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