This has been a debate around the CinemaBlend “offices” ever since the show it streaming: Is Disney+’s Hamilton a movie? Those who support the idea that it IS a movie wanted to include it on year-end Best Of lists. Others who view it as merely a taped version of a live stage performance wouldn’t put it up for any awards considerations, because it’s more like a Fathom event than a For Your Consideration contender. And yet, when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association rattled off its list of Golden Globe nominations for 2021, there was Hamilton in the Best Picture - Musical/Comedy category, with Lin-Manuel Miranda also getting a Best Actor nomination.
The Golden Globes are always going to Golden Globe.
Does Hamilton deserve accolades? Of course it does. It’s a phenomenal show, and this particular capture of the Broadway performance -- featuring the original Broadway cast including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Phillipa Soo, Daveed Diggs, and Renee Elise Goldsberry -- uses camera work to bring the audience right up onto the stage in key sequences, creating an intimate screening of Hamilton that’s not possible when you buy a ticket to the actual live show.
But is it a movie? That’s something I think we can continue to debate, even after the Golden Globes nominated it for Best Picture.
Look, I really want to take the Golden Globes seriously. Every year, I open my mind and prepare to defend the Golden Globes as a serious, legitimate harbinger for quality in the Awards Race, and every year, they find a way to make me question that credibility. The Prom? Best Picture? And not just The Prom, but James Corden? Over Nicole Kidman or Meryl Streep?
As our own Dirk Libbey astutely notes:
One significant issue in determining that Hamilton is a movie is that it now sets precedent. Let’s look at Hulu’s current phenomenon, the taped capture of Derek DelGaudio’s stage performance In & Of Itself. By definition, it doesn’t fit into what we’d call a movie. The distinction is that it doesn’t have actors, they are not reading from someone’s script, there aren’t scenes… the things we usually use to define a “movie.” Hamilton has SOME of these characteristics, but does it have enough to push it over the line into Movie consideration?
I’ll play Devil’s Advocate and take the “Pro” debate, temporarily. Lin-Manuel Miranda does give a performance in Hamilton. He is playing a character, following a narrative, and carrying scenes. However, when looking at other adaptations of stage shows -- even Tony Award-winning stage shows -- they tend to go above and beyond to make a “movie” of the show. Tom Hooper cast Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway in his movie version of Les Miserables. Would Les Miserables competed for as many awards if Hooper had just filmed a stage version of the show and dropped that into theaters?
The answer is no. It needs to feel like a movie. And while I LOVED Hamilton, and adore that it is on Disney+ for more fans to be able to see, it’s not a movie, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Hamilton for Golden Globes awards to get fans of Hamilton to tune in to its television show. Egregious? You bet. Standard for the Globes? Also guilty as charged. Worse than a Best Picture nomination The Prom? I’ll leave that for all of you to decide.