Les Miserables was considered an early frontrunner Oscar’s Best Picture before the race really began. That put it at a disadvantage immediately because most frontrunners are bigger targets when the collective believes they are going to win. It’s better, always, to fly under the radar.  The film enters the race now with two major obstacles in its path: 1) its director, Tom Hooper, won as recently as 2010. Unless you talking about one of those Oscar oddities it’s not a likely scenario that one of his films can win again, or that he can win again so soon. 2) no Best Director nod for Hooper at the Golden Globes, where they honor musicals more than any other voting body. The big musicals that did make the jump to Oscar’s Best Picture had, at the very least, that Globe nod.  Baz Luhrmann for Moulin Rouge, Rob Marshall for Chicago are two recent examples.

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 8.32.45 PM

Those are hurdles before the film ever gets to the Kodak and before you ever get to the film itself.   What Les Miserables has going for it is a powerful fan base. Fans are out in force attacking and dismantling negative reviews, on message boards debating criticisms of the film, making a daily case for Hugh Jackman to win in Best Actor and for the film to become, eventually, too big to ignore.  In addition, two of Oscar’s most reliable pundits, Fandango’s Dave Karger and In Contention’s Kris Tapley still have Les Miserables, the longest shot in the race right now, at number one. Both are predicting the impossible to become possible.  Both also attended the now famous New York screenings where there were standing ovations and tears.

The film itself has seemed to divide critics, and even fans of the stage show, right down the middle. People love it or they hate it. I have found that on second viewing, and on screener as opposed to an overwhelming big screen experience, the movie is more enjoyable. The performances have more room to breathe and the Les Miserables story begins to emerge. The show itself has to come out from under the specific choice to film the whole thing in close-up and if it can do that it has a shot at a win.

But let’s quickly look at how divisive the film is.  Supposedly the model for Les Miserables to win is Crash.  I’ll take this moment to remind readers that odd occurrences like Crash are hard to predict. Those who accurately predicted that film to win, likewise Shakespeare in Love, were picking up on a last minute wave of enthusiasm that could be felt on the ground but that hadn’t yet permeated in the awards watching communities. For instance, back in 1998 both Kenneth Turan and Dave Karger had predicted Saving Private Ryan to win because they had to have their predictions in a couple of weeks before the big show. Both have later said that they could feel the shifting buzz in the days leading up to the race and that they both knew Shakespeare in Love would win but it was too late to put their predictions on record.

Now, we have up-to-the-minute reporting that enabled, say, the New York Times’ David Carr to predict Crash to win in 2005, when very few others were, simply because he was on the ground in the days leading up to the Oscars and could sense the enthusiasm in the air for that film. But as long as I’ve been doing the Oscars, and as many times as I have looked back on surprises and splits, they are mostly impossible to see coming — that includes Chariots of Fire and Reds, etc.

So that takes us back to the roll of the dice that tells us a long shot like Les Miserables could be that movie.  Passionate enthusiasm can get the film nominated but it takes a broader “Like” to get it the win the way the Oscars count ballots. This was one of Avatar’s biggest stumbling blocks heading into the race; it was a love it/hate it movie.  You either went with it 100% or you were going to be irritated by it. Les Miserables is that kind of movie and there’s something to be said for that — whether it’s an Oscar winner or not.

It is like Crash only in one respect: the reviews have been sharply divided.  A reader challenged me recently saying that Crash was as divisive as Les Miserables but I disagreed with that notion because Crash, unlike Les Miserables, was driven by its script, its cast and its editing.  Thus, to overcome mixed to bad reviews, a film must also have that kind of support. Thus, Les Miserables really needs an editing nomination, win the WGA (Writers Guild) [Les Miserables can’t win the WGA because it is ineligible], the Ace Eddie (Editors Guild) in Musical/Comedy, to win the SAG ensemble to sit where Crash sat heading into the race.

Now, the reviews.  I don’t often use Rotten Tomatoes for an accurate reading on reviews because they are divided up as positive and negative and that doesn’t really give you a precise qualitative idea of how that movie is really doing with critics.  But I noticed an interesting trend.  All Best Picture winners in recent years, except one, had less than 20 rotten scores.  For some of the older films, too many modern reviews have been added to the mix so, in the case of Crash, I removed the reviews that happened after 2005 to arrive at its total, but you can see that Crash and Les Miserables have the highest numbers heading into the race.  That shows how divisive both films are.  Still, one might think that if Crash could win, Les Miserables can win also.

The Artist- Fresh (214) | Rotten (4)
The King’s Speech – Fresh (209) | Rotten (12)
The Hurt Locker – Fresh (212) | Rotten (7)
Slumdog Millionaire – Fresh (218) | Rotten (15)
No Country for Old Men – Fresh (234) | Rotten (14)
The Departed – Fresh (222) | Rotten (17)
Crash – Fresh (157) | Rotten (49)
Million Dollar Baby Fresh (214) | Rotten (20)
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Fresh (248) | Rotten (14)

Crash – Fresh (157) | Rotten (49)
Brokeback Mountain Fresh (212) | Rotten (31)
Capote Fresh (171) | Rotten (20)
Good Night, and Good Luck Fresh (208) | Rotten (14)
Munich Fresh (162) | Rotten (35) (otherwise 44)

Now onto this year so far:

Les Miserables Fresh (99) | Rotten (39)
The Master Fresh (178) | Rotten (32)
Beasts of the Southern Wild Fresh (148) | Rotten (26)
Life of Pi Fresh (180) | Rotten (23)
Lincoln Fresh (164) | Rotten (17)
Silver Linings Playbook Fresh (154) | Rotten (16)
Django Unchained Fresh (105) | Rotten (13)
Moonrise Kingdom Fresh (196) | Rotten (13)
Argo Fresh (232) | Rotten (11)
Amour Fresh (84) | Rotten (7)
Zero Dark Thirty Fresh (79) | Rotten (6)

**additional information – the Metacritic score for Les Miserables has climbed to 64. But that still puts it lower than Crash, the lowest Metactic score to date for any Best Picture winner. It is also still lower than Moulin Rouge (66) and Chicago (82), and even Sweeney Todd (82). But higher than Phantom of the Opera (40) and Evita (45).

You could probably take each recent Oscar year and measure them and you’d find only Crash as the winner with those kinds of divisive reactions. But that means it isn’t totally impossible that Les Miserables pull it through. Crash also lacked a Golden Globe nod for Director (except that’s more common from the drama category than musical/comedy).

What I’ve built here is a case against, and potentially a case for Les Miserables to win.  But that doesn’t tell the whole picture. There is the matter of audience reaction to the film.  Both War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last year managed to still head into the Oscar race for Best Picture even with divisive reviews mostly because of the audience reaction to them.  According to many reports, many audiences are clapping wildly and crying, some even standing after seeing the film.  It has a strong Cinemascore of A and looks to shatter the box office this season.

None of that can be easily discounted.  In the same way that Lincoln is doing so well “outside the bubble,” Les Miserables could be that movie that does much better outside the bubble than inside of it. We all tend to be more cynical, less willing to surrender to something as emotional as Les Mis.   If it becomes, say, as big or close to as Skyfall, it will become too big to ignore and will become critic-proof.

Although I was not a part of it, Les Miserables swept up a generation with its addictive songs and deep emotional resonance.  It defines childhoods for many and reminds them of an emotionally powerful experience in the theater.   The film brings it all rushing back and could result in repeat viewings.

The big risk Tom Hooper took in having the actors sing live, which is no easy feat, has caused many to stand up and cheer just on its own.  And the actors give it their absolute all, many of them already enamored of the stage show. Indeed, if you’re an actor, especially a musical theater actor, your dream might have been to be cast in Les Miserables.

All of that is to say what we knew going in — Les Miserables is a long shot both for a nomination and a win. But it isn’t impossible, at least not yet.  A DGA nomination could go a long way to help fortify its base.  Either way, whether it wins any Oscars or not shouldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of its fans. Sadly, we know that it does, but it shouldn’t.  They should feel free to keep dreaming that dream.


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  • “Although I was not a part of it, Les Miserables swept up a generation with its addictive songs and deep emotional resonance. It defines childhoods for many and reminds them of an emotionally powerful experience in the theater. The film brings it all rushing back and could result in repeat viewings.”

    This may be the most vital point of all in this fair and all-encompassing analysis. I do still believe that the matter with the Best Director snub at the Globes is really negligable. Too much stock is being given to that award body. It is a record that has more to do with coiuncidence than any tangible consideration of prospects. But I understand your aim here is to present the entire picture through reviews and every significant awards group, so that omission should at least be broached. This is a timely piece today what with the rising critical numbers at MC, (17 to 2 this morning with 11 middling) the box-office mania, and a real passion online from people who have seen the film.

    Passion wins. This film may defy all the predictions on that fact alone. Will it happen? Can’t say at this point. But we have a monster hit here that is poised for a big upset. Time will tell of course if this is a possibility.

  • This was a totally fair analysis of the film’s chances for major awards. The only complaint I had was that there were places where it could have opened up more and been made less rushed, but that would have required another 20 to 30 minutes of a film that is already over 2 1/2 hours. My review goes to the wonderful acting. Les Miserables Is Anything But

  • John

    Saw it last night in a packed theater with a wide range of ages and races. While there was minimal applause during, there was a lot of applause during the credits and people were buzzing while leaving the theater. The lady sitting next to me was stoic throughout the whole film and then was sobbing for the last 5 minutes.

    I think that, if the Academy can get over the close ups, then the movie may be in good stead.

    Because I was so, so, so warned from critics and other sources about the close ups, I can say that I prepared for the worst and wasn’t bothered by them in the slightest.

    I also agree that DGA and ACE will be telling. But I think it’s in the thick of things in the race, for sure. The A Cinemascore and early Box office is quite something. And I do believe that this is one of those films that improves on each viewing if folks/academy catch it again.

  • Sasha Stone

    I agree with you, Jamie. An example – when Fantine says goodbye to Cosette (spoiler) a beat, or several beats before Russell Crowe shows up. That kind of thing would have made it an easier experience. I think of it like being a virgin – your first time you need things to be eased in more gently, not rammed in with no lube. Sorry! A gross analogy.

  • Patrick

    Just be careful, cheering and applause on the opening day of a film (with a huge fanbase already established) doesn’t say that much. Same goes for the early screening that Karger and Tapley went to.

    Rising critical numbers at MC, (17 to 2 this morning with 11 middling)
    It’s at 64% right now at MC, with 37 reviews, which is near consensus, and not a single 100 score yet.

  • It’ll definitely be nominated for the ACE. They have a separate comedy / musical category. It’ll likely go up against Silver Linings Playbook, and it’ll likely beat Silver Linings Playbook too.

    the rising critical numbers at MC

    Yeah, they’re rising, but that doesn’t count for an awful lot in this case. Les Mis is currently only at 64, without a single score of 100 as yet. Crash finished at 69, with six scores of 100. For a film that’s being described as divisive, with passionate support, the passion seems to be more on the negative side of the divide, from the critics. The Master is another divisive film – love it or hate it, and it has both lovers and haters. Les Mis is lacking in lovers on Metacritic.

    But if the support is elsewhere, it may not matter what the critics say, do or think. I’ve argued before that the Academy will vote for Les Mis whether they’re told by the critics to steer clear of it or not, and I’ve faced vehement opposition. I remain confident that the Academy will love it, and that the strong box office will offer significant support.

  • We Patricks unite!

    your first time you need things to be eased in more gently, not rammed in with no lube

    Not if it’s just a wee slip of a cock though. And from what I’ve gleaned, Les Mis is a rock-hard, raging 12-incher, ugly as sin, throbbing with blood, and mighty proud of it.

    And I’m so not sorry for my gross analogy.

  • Ted

    Can’t tell you how many of my friends have seen it and were shocked at how terrible they thought it was, namely the singing. I’m sure some hardcore fans will still die for it, but a lot of people who have grown up with the show and know all the words (like myself), disappointment could lie right around the corner. The material, at least in my opinion, has always been known to be thoroughly and beautifully sung, much of the time by artists with some operatic training.

  • Ted

    I do, however, still think it has a shot at the top 10 because of its size, hype, seasonal timing, and cast. I think it’s slowly getting edged out though.

  • Golden Globe Director Nominees

    Spielberg – He’s the Meryl Streep of the Golden Globe directing category

    Affleck – They love a star and this is a breakout role for director

    Kathryn Bigelow – nominated after winning Oscar for film where they chose her over the loser

    Tarantino – nominated six times for three films (including his most recent)

    Ang Lee – nominated four times (this last time being the first real opportunity since the BP Oscar Brokeback loss)

    Clearly, the musical bias favoring Les Miz aside, a case can be made why the 93-member organization made the choices that they did, given their history in the context of the last six years. It’s not like they placed anyone over Hooper who didn’t curry favor with the HFPA. Also, they chose Fincher over Hooper, so they may not even like the guy.

  • m1

    What is this myth that War Horse got divisive reviews? It has a 72 on MC without any negative reviews. That’s not mixed at all.

    As for LM, it doesn’t hurt that the movie just might be the highest grossing of the potential nominees. All the showings at my theatre in Virginia sold out and when word of mouth goes out, it will make a lot of money. But Argo still seems to be the frontrunner.

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    Can you imagine where THE SOUND OF MUSIC would fall on the Metacritic/Tomatoes percentage system if such a thing existed in 1965? LES MIZ falls in the same category: Critic hate (practically with a vendetta), People love. That’s why the producers of TITANIC have that golden statue on their mantle. Is it so bad to reward a movie that is loved?

  • Ted

    Haven’t a lot of people talked about how Tom Hooper might not have been the best fit was director for LES MIZ, or is that just my bubble? Most of its problems, I’d say, are his fault.

  • Bob Burns

    put the show into the context of the AIDS epidemic of the late 80’s and the first half of the 90’s…. as I and many others, I guess, do.

    “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” on repeat into the night.

    I could care less about awards for Les Miserables, agree with Sasha’s gentle analysis, but loved the film. Loved, loved it.

  • Patrick

    Critic hate (practically with a vendetta), People love. That’s why the producers of TITANIC have that golden statue on their mantle.
    Titanic has 11 100s on Metacritic. It has critic love too.

  • “I have found that on second viewing, and on screener as opposed to an overwhelming big screen experience, the movie is more enjoyable. The performances have more room to breathe and the Les Miserables story begins to emerge.”

    Then why do you still go on twitter and say the film is “truly terrible” Sasha? I don’t get it.

  • representDLV

    I love this race. If you were to make a satire about cliche Oscar favorites this year has them. A star-studded biopic about the most beloved president of all time directed by Spielberg. An over the top, star-studded movie of the most beloved musical of all time. An over the top Tarantino movie about slavery. We’re just missing a great WWII film.

  • Sasha Stone

    Squasher – I am trying to be as supportive in that piece as possible – it’s supposed to be a “case for.” I think it’s a badly directed film, a near-catastrophe. Sure, it isn’t Phantom of the Opera bad but all I’m saying there is that it is slightly LESS unbearable on second viewing. Does that make it a good movie? No. It is not a good movie. That doesn’t mean people don’t love it. If I write “a case for” I have to make the best case I can possibly make. Believe me, it would be so much easier to write a “why I think Les Mis won’t win” piece.

  • Sasha Stone

    Titanic has 11 100s on Metacritic. It has critic love too.

    Only two movies in recent history have even gotten nominations with NO scores of 100 – The Blind Side and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The question now becomes will Les Mis break their pattern and get more than just a few nominations? Even The Help had a single score of 100, at least.

  • Sasha Stone

    The context of the AIDS epidemic, Bob? That’s a new one! I thought it was all about the revolution and Occupy and all of that. AIDS now???

  • Sasha Stone

    Ted, I think the movie needed a different director, yes. My choice would have been Roman Polanski or Baz Luhrmann.

  • Sasha Stone

    Can you imagine where THE SOUND OF MUSIC would fall on the Metacritic/Tomatoes percentage system if such a thing existed in 1965?

    It would have done INCREDIBLY well. The Sound of Music was one of the biggest money makers of the year, even of the decade. People LOVE that film, few hate it. Les Mis is divisive because people hate it.

  • Sasha Stone

    I’m sure some hardcore fans will still die for it, but a lot of people who have grown up with the show and know all the words (like myself), disappointment could lie right around the corner.

    And no one is warning them.

  • Sasha Stone

    Paddy, hahaha!

  • I’ve read Nate Silver references to the math that was done to get Les Miz produced.

    Just sayin’.

  • “Can you imagine where THE SOUND OF MUSIC would fall on the Metacritic/Tomatoes percentage system if such a thing existed in 1965?”

    A young woman singing on top of a mountain. They would have been merciless. God forbid being moved by a musical that tries to embue a historical event with songs.

    I know you tried, Sasha. But, it seems that many in your “cases for” series are written by people who loved the movie. Or, am I mistaken?

  • I hate The Sound of Music. Boy oh boy do I hate it. I hate the children. I hate the nuns. I hate the songs. I hate the lederhosen.

  • Danemychal

    The Help is still the movie I will compare to Les Mis. Actor-driven movie, the director may not factor into the race at all. Very big fan base in the general public = strong box office. Supporting Actress possibly to sweep awards season. Positive reviews but not a critical darling. Ensemble cast a good bet for SAG Ensemble.

    It’s a stronger Academy-type picture than The Help which should work in its favor. But The Help didn’t have another significant ensemble riding up against it either. This year, the veteran cast of heavy-hitters in Lincoln should make it interesting.

  • phantom

    Remarkably fair analysis, I think the one aspect that isn’t really emphasized anywhere, that the Academy loves underdogs, so if Les Misérables shockingly wins something big (Best Picture or Best Actor or receives Best Director/Best Adapted Screenplay nominations), I think it will have A LOT to do with the fact that it became the underdog after the mixed reviews arrived. It might not have had the kind of overprotective, passionate fan-love against the stiff competition, that it has now that people started writing it off.

    I think Hooper might get the Daldry-treatment from the Academy : if he continues to deliver Academy-friendly films, they will continue to recognize those films. And even though – especially now with the damn strong Django officially in the race, too – Best Director seems like a close to untouchable Spielberg-Bigelow-Affleck-Lee-Tarantino quintet with a few viable surprises (Russell, Anderson, Haneke), I still firmly believe they WILL nominate Tom Hooper ‘Reader-style’.

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    and Vince, they WERE merciless. Panned by the NYT, Pauline Kael, Judith Crist, etc. etc. they were the critical dogs of their day that barked back at the seemingly stupid public that loved, loved their Julie Andrews on a mountain. it’s no different now. a movie blockbuster with a complete lack of smirking, knowing irony is hard for critics to take. oh, and i’m still cleaning up the table from having spewed my coffee over the comment that Polanski or Luhrmann would have improved LES MIZ.

  • Yes, I kept thinking of all the friends, almost my entire generation being wiped out by AIDS all through the second rapturous time I saw it. Yes to “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” being something that I found myself thinking about all the brilliant, beautiful men my generation has lost. And then again at the magnificent ending. It was like they had all come back to life, for a second, on the barricades, which is what we in the Gay Rights movement always felt we were on.

    Spontaneously applause broke out in the last screening I attended, an Academy one, at that, after “I Dreamed a Dream”(Anne Hathaway also got bravos!), “Who Am I?”, “One Day More”, “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” and a standing O, and cheering, bravos at the end.

    I have never seen a movie being responded to like this before. Never

    And AMPAS members that I’ve spoken to feel the same way as I do.With $18 million on its’ first day and not a ticket to be had in NYC, I think it is well on its’ way to an Oscar.

  • Oh I know.

    Tom Hooper – master director
    Roman Polanski – hack

  • The Help comparison is not a sound one. It doesn’t fly, because people who hated that movie took exception from a sociological/political position (i.e. an opportunity for white people to feel good about themselves regarding racism was the general gripe).

    People who hate Les Miz complain about technical elements, yet, what seems apparent is a general dislike for musicals and/or disdain for the director, especially in light of his rather recent Oscar win.

  • Bob Burns

    don’t know how to take your comment, Sasha…. just talking about an emotional connection a lot of people have to the music and the story.

    The film is better than the show. The close-ups and long takes are much better than the editing style we’ve seen since Chicago, they and work especially well for a story that has always been about emotion.

  • If Luhrmann directed Les Miz, I would probably have had to go in for neck surgery afterwards or get treated for Vertigo. One or the other.

  • Robert A.

    Didn’t some critic back in the day refer to The Sound of Music as “The Sound of Mucus”? Or wait, maybe that was Christopher Plummer himself, who supposedly HATED the movie. Pauline Kael was famously fired from her job as film critic at McCall’s after she wrote a scathing review of The Sound of Music.

    “I hate The Sound of Music. Boy oh boy do I hate it. I hate the children. I hate the nuns. I hate the songs. I hate the lederhosen.”

    Aw, come on, Paddy! Even the lederhosen?

  • FrankieJ

    For many in the Broadway community shows (showfans included) shows like Les Mis and Into the Woods were parables for the AIDS crisis then raging in the late 80s–especially here in NYC. Bob isn’t making that up. It’s fact. And “Empty Chairs” resonated with so many who lived while so many around them were dying. Redmayne’s stirring scene was a reminder.

  • Jack

    Sasha, You said you’ve grown up with the show and know all the words and yet in an earlier podcast you didn’t even know that Fantine died…

  • steve50

    “I hate The Sound of Music. Boy oh boy do I hate it. I hate the children. I hate the nuns. I hate the songs. I hate the lederhosen.”

    ^What Paddy says. Never made it thru the whole film yet.

    Saw Les Mis yesterday, still putting together some thoughts.

  • Zach

    Well, I still think it’s definitely getting nominated for Best Picture — more than 5 slots are available. Don’t you all still think Anne Hathaway is winning?

  • John

    If you take metacritic seriously, then yes, it having no 100s yet is … Something.

    But critics don’t vote. And if you look at rotten tomatoes, there are “top critics” not used in metacritic that have given it 100 or 4/4, etc..

    And you know, anyone can say that they loved a film, liked a film, didn’t like a film, hated a film, cried, cringed, tolerated a film on a second watch, enjoyed it more, liked performances, hated the direction, etc. But you can’t affirm that any film “is not good”. That’s subjective, no?

  • Anne won when she lost all that weight on oatmeal squares and lopped her hair on-camera off last Spring.

  • Jack

    Wait! Sorry! Didn’t know you were quoting someone else… That’s what I get for just reading your comments…

  • Anne won when she left the audition and knew she nailed it and then went home that night and started deciding on which designer was going to make her dress, while asking Beyonce questions about the Lemonade Cleanse.

  • Zach

    OMG, the Daldry comparison for Hooper is a terrific analogy. The “us vs. them” dynamic that these directors engender. For the record, I love The Hours and appreciate The Reader (Extremely Loud…not so much), but The King’s Speech was good, nothing special beyond a Best Actor platform.

    If Hooper is still nominated, then Tarantino would have to budge, no? Life of Pi isn’t as widely bandied about as the other films in the race, but it made good money and features such artistry. Django is not the “Academy film” here. Tarantino is a previous winner (for screenwriting), and audiences are responding to this film, but I can see not enough of the Academy “getting it” to nominate him. Christopher Nolan redux.

  • phantom

    Vince Smetana

    “People who hate Les Miz complain about technical elements, yet, what seems apparent is a general dislike for musicals and/or disdain for the director, especially in light of his rather recent Oscar win.”

    I can’t comment on the quality of the film until tomorrow when I actually see it, but reading the reviews, I noticed the same thing. They go after the close-ups as if it were an incompetent foolish mistake in the concept, although it does seem like a VERY conscious artistic decision to emphasize the strong emotional impact of Hugo’s famous story. Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal) got the concept, he said something like the film works because it honors the emotional core of its source material, and I’m fairly certain that’s EXACTLY what those close-ups are all about.

    I loved SeattleMoviegoer’s comment a few days ago, when he basically said the hipster film community hates LesMis because it is a musical therefore impossible to be taken seriously and also NOT one of the ‘hip’ genres today, yet go apeshit over superheroes because they are clearly so much more realistic than a character expressing himself/herself in songs. Les Misérables could be a bad film and OF COURSE anyone can hate it without any bias, simply because they deem it a bad film, but I agree that there are negative responses out there that are clearly biased.

    Again, I could EASILY hate Les Misérables tomorrow, as a kid I was into the novel (in Europe it is widely considered one of the greatest novels of all time therefore it is in the high-school curriculum, I was surprised that it apparently isn’t in the US), not the musical (although I did see the musical with my family 15 years ago), so the film might not be my cup of tea in the end, having said that, something simply doesn’t seem to add up with several negative reviews/takes, especially with the ones criticizing the very definition of the age-old genre of musical (‘breaking into song is SO unrealistic, you guys’) and the ones bringing up Hooper’s controversial Oscar-win…I mean, how am I supposed to take a review/opinion like that seriously when there is obvious bias against the GENRE and the DIRECTOR ? It’s like my take on a Republican racist person …it will be NEVER a fair take.

  • Sasha Stone

    Sasha, You said you’ve grown up with the show and know all the words and yet in an earlier podcast you didn’t even know that Fantine died…

    Dude, I never said *I* grew up with the show. Where did I say that? I went in a total virgin.

  • Sasha Stone

    Bob, I was just surprised – I hadn’t heard that before, re: AIDS. Was that the producers’ of the show’s intent? And if so, why hasn’t it been discussed yet?

  • Zach

    LOL, Vince, Anne won when she won the part. That’s how these things really work (Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf, Renee Zellweger as Granny Moses [and I support that win], Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth, Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, and likely DDL as Abe Lincoln). All sight-unseen winners. I can’t think of the last sight-unseen winner who lost.

  • Zach

    Is it just me, or is Broadway overrated? I’m seeing it this weekend, a total Les Mis virgin, and obviously have had to lower my expectations somewhat (even though as a Les Mis virgin I already don’t know what to expect).

    If I have problems with this film, I’m sure it’ll be easy to blame Tom Hooper, but if the music and performances can’t overcome misguided directorial choices, then what does that say about the underlying source material? RENT was a Broadway fan favorite, and the film, while never considered an Oscar contender, wasn’t badly done; what more could the filmmakers have done to improve upon the premise and plot devices? Same for A CHORUS LINE. On the other hand, DREAMGIRLS was still very good, with Beyonce being the weak link. And THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was chintzy because Joel Schumacher was the wrong choice to direct it, but Emmy Rossum was still fantastic, and the music and production values still overcame the potential cheese factor and limitations of the cliched storyline.

    Why is it that for every CHICAGO and DREAMGIRLS, and even SWEENEY TODD, there’s a PHANTOM, RENT, PRODUCERS, or A CHORUS LINE? How much of it can be chalked up to poor choices in direction or casting, and how much of it reflects insurmountable weaknesses in the underlying source material?

  • Terometer

    $18 million a day. So, after a week, it’ll be…
    And there are no big studio pictures for the next few weeks.
    And it’s the right time for academy members to decide their votes.
    And django is not far behind…

  • Rory

    I’ve heard it said that the main reason Crash surprisingly showed up last minute after being ignored at the Globes and won Best Picture in 2006 was because conservative Academy voters didn’t want to give the BP win to Brokeback Maountain.

  • Bill W.

    Saw it last night, Albany, NY. We were first in line to get in. Some older lady walked up to us, saw what we were in line for, and said, “Wonderful, wonderful!” Another guy said, “Incredible movie, incredible.” Another lady walked by crying, and yet another was carrying a box of tissues. All these people had been let out of the showing before ours.

    After we finally saw it, I was exhausted. Way too much continuous singing – they could have edited some of those songs out.

  • Zach > Some things are just obvious. I wasn’t deep into the awards game for very long, but, yes, I do recall Nat Rogers saying JHud had Oscar in the bag way before cameras rolled.

    And, as far as Cold Mountain, I liked and support it way more than I’d like to admit. 🙂

  • red_wine

    The notion that a number on some website determines a movie’s worth is reductive beyond imagination.

    A film that does not have a 100 or a 100 100’s on MC is not a lesser film for that.

  • Patrick

    The notion that a number on some website determines a movie’s worth is reductive beyond imagination.
    And the notion that an award from some group of people determines a movie’s worth is reductive beyond imagination, no?

  • sw

    re: AIDS. Was that the producers’ of the show’s intent? And if so, why hasn’t it been discussed yet?

    Sasha, no, it was not written as an AIDS ballad, but it became one in the late 1980s.

    Here’s just one example from 1996:

  • Kane

    Sight-unseen, I remember hearing Heath Ledger’s name called for the Joker and thought, “Now THAT’S a role for him.” It wasn’t until this site had the test picture of him in full makeup that I knew he would be the frontrunner…the trailer solidified it. Also the first picture of Forest Whitaker on this site with his fist raised in the Last King of Scotland had me cheering his name months in advance. It was inevitable.

    And Zach, I wouldn’t compare Tarantino to Nolan when it comes to Oscars for director since Tarantino has already been nominated twice.

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    reading the comments above…i didn’t realize that Stephen Daldry was one of the dishonorable directors that we’re supposed to dislike. you guys are gonna have a field day with nasty comments when he gets done with the film version of WICKED.
    and to Zach…
    you’re right. we get some lousy musicals when the directors are a bad fit. few can do it well because fewer modern directors understand the genre–especially younger ones that have no tie nor comprehension of theatre. most of our greatest directors of the past came from the theatre; Kazan, Wyler, Zinneman, Minnelli, Robbins, Reed, Bergman, etc. etc. yet, those who would make a great musical today (Spielberg, Scorsese, Tarantino, Stone, Mendes, haven’t done one. meanwhile, studios are handing primo Broadway projects to people like Jon Favreau (JERSEY BOYS) and McQ (!!!!) SPRING AWAKENINGS. my personal wish list would include Scorsese (PIPPIN or SUNSET BLVD), Spielberg (RAGTIME) and Woody Allens adaptation of 42nd STREET.

  • phantom


    Aw, I would LOVE to see Scorsese directing Glenn Close to her long overdue Oscar in Sunset Boulevard !

    Also, my point wasn’t that Daldry is a ‘dishonorable’ director, it was that if someone’s style is SO right up the Academy’s alley, they will embrace his efforts even if critics won’t (The Reader/Extremely Loud), and since Hooper’s style is VERY Oscar-friendly (and has been long before he turned to features (Longford, John Adams etc.)), I think voters might just go with their gut instead of anxiously googling reviews and critics scores.

  • Renae

    Saw it yesterday with my teenaged daughter in Arizona. Packed theater. Breathless audience. More young children than I expected and not a restless one to be had. Hardly anyone went to the restroom or for refills. Applause.

    I was expecting far worse on the close ups and found them effective most of the time.

    I felt the live singing was brilliant!

    I could be critical about a number of issues (Crowe, the Bring Him Home scene…) but I won’t because I had a wonderful visceral experience.

  • Brian

    Seattle Moviegoer — there’s a rumor that Spielberg may direct
    Streisand in Gypsy. And without a lot of close-ups.

  • steve50

    To make a case for (or against) the success of Les Miserables as a film one only has to apply these:
    1. Is the film made from soaring original material?
    2. Has it been opened-up by a cinematically minded director with vision?
    3. Will it connect with audience members other than those who already love the material or who bring enough personal baggage with them to make that electrical connection?
    4. Finally, is the FILM experience transporting in a way that only movies are capable of?

    West Side Story, An American in Paris, Cabaret, Moulin Rouge and portions of Chicago managed to achieve that. Les Miserables is rock solid on the first point, but fails on the rest.

    The key successful factor for each musical named above is the involvement of the camera to translate stage experience or musical familiarity to the big screen, then to make it its own. Les Mis crushingly relies on its pedigree score connecting to the audience baggage, but visually may as well have been produced for television.

    Mr Hooper stated in a recent televised interview (his expression confessing an obvious anticipation of criticism for his style of choice) that he was going for intimacy with his characters, but like a bad lover, his idea of “intimacy” is annoyingly in-your-face and ultimately smothering. His idea of emotionally epic vision turns his canvas into a buffalo stampede in a parking lot.

    Hathaway was great – had this been a competition, all four chairs would have turned. She’ll probably walk away with the supporting actress trophy even though she doesn’t support anybody (other than possibly some foster children she may have on the side) – her role is correctly defined by the Tony’s criteria as “Featured” performer, not supporting, and for the brief time she’s onscreen, she’s the lead. Whatever.

    I didn’t have a problem with any of the cast, even Crowe, who unfortunately reminded me of that surly ex you can’t shake. An obvious stand-out was Eddie Redmayne and Jackman, as expected, was born for this; I only wish more imagination had gone into the framing because I always felt he was being constrained.

    So, yes, it may likely be nominated for Best Picture, but (as is evident in previous posts here) it is only because the audience is projecting themselves into the glory of the music. They get no assistance or guidance from the filmmaker and I actually think they achieve this goal despite him. I managed a few goosebumps – no tears – during the showing, but a real sadness came afterward when thinking of “what might have been.”

  • Radich

    Very nice “a case for”, Sasha. And thank you for your thoughts on the film, Steve50.

    I think the way for me it will be by lowering my expectations. I like musicals, but I am not sure how, visually, this one will entice me as it should. It will be released in Brazil Feb 1st, so by then it will probably be an Oscar nominee already. But I cannot wait to see what the fuzz is all about.

  • Bob Burns

    the show was written in the late 70’s – so no, the AIDS connection would not have been present, but I would be amazed if the producers didn’t get it when they saw their creation in the late 80’s…. particularly with all the young gay men and their allies going to the barricades in response to the governments’ indifference to their horrific fates. Very similar to the June Revolutionaries manning barricades while the general population slept.

    I am not campaigning for Les Miserables. I can’t see it makes any difference whatsoever whether it wins and am astonished by Karger’s prediction. Hooper won an undeserved Oscar (IMO) and his subsequent works will carry a curse. life goes on. I’m for Lincoln and think it will win.

    But Hooper’s adaptation of les Miserables is intelligent, thoughtful. I’m grateful.

  • rufussondheim

    It was fabulous!

    You know what I would have written if I had to write “A Case For…”? I would have written, “It was fantuckingfabulous!” and ended it there. You know why? Because it was fabulous!

    Now I really didn’t expect to love this movie, the last time I saw the show, I was mostly bored (it was the third time) and only perked up for the moments I knew I would enjoy, which you could count on one hand.

    So I was taken by surprise when I found myself emotionally involved quite suddenly when Fantine was getting blindsided by that one rather cute gentleman. And then (I had forgotten this) she breaks into her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream. And, yes, this was all done in close-up. But more importantly it was done all in one take. It was a brilliant decision by Hooper to do this. Hathaway’s rendition wasn’t note-perfect by any means, but she hit every emotional peak and valley possible in that song and it might just be the best performance of one song in any musical I’ve seen (even though I’m still not a fan of that song.)

    Then the movie moves along quite nicely. Who am I? concluding with Jackman in front of the court was very moving as well. And Confrontation was every bit as thrilling as it needed to be, although Jackman making his escape was poorly done.

    But the movie really picks up steam when Marius enters the picture. He completely steals the movie from there on out, and that’s not an easy job as that portion of the play always belongs to Eponine and Enjolras. He elevated the rest of the show into one of the great screen musicals.

    Now I was disappointed that they moved On My Own earlier and I can’t for the life of me figure out why Samantha Barks was cast if they didn’t let her open up to her full vocal potential because she didn’t have the acting chops the part required (and that’s a shame)

    But then One Day More happened and I was excited to see it was well-done, but it still paled to the show (having all the characters together on the stage for that song is particularly effective). Of course, at this time, was wondering what happened to Do You Hear the People Sing? Not sure where it was going to happen, I was thrilled that it came at the conclusion of One Day More. What an intelligent choice! The moving of On My Own to earlier in the show was definitely a brave choice, and it paid off.

    I loved what Hooper chose to do with Do You Hear the People Sing, making it group sung the whole way through, eliminating the solo portions at the beginning of the song. It’s always been an anthem, but it’s anthemic status was only magnified and it became an emotional experience, a cry from the masses for equality. Sheer Brilliance!

    As the movie neared conclusion, I was quite pleased they tossed that stupid ass Dog Eat Dog song, but the old problems with the show began to surface, then ending is too long to sustain the emotion one has when Gavroche Enjolras and Eponine die.

    But that’s not the case when you have Eddie Redmaybe on deck to sing Empty Chairs at Empty Tables! Give that man the fucking Oscar, how he’s not considered a lock at this point is quite surprising to me.

    And so more ending, stretched out a little to long, but then we get to the scene in the church at the end and the re-emergence of Fantine and that’s when the tears started to stream from my eyes in a way I would have been embarrassed if it was caught on film.

    And then the reprise of Do You Hear the People Sing (I thought I was watching Longtime Companion for a bit!) and the tears just kept coming. Holy Shit that was fabulously effective. That brought down the emotional house.

    I enjoyed this film way more than I thought I would, more than any time I saw the show (3 times) and way more than I ever loved listening to the various cast-show albums and reunions and anniversary shows. I really thought I was Les Mizzzed out after 27 years (or so) of this show being in my life, I didn’t think there was any potential left in it to surprise and amaze me. But I was wrong.

    My new top 10 for the year (oh it’s quite an exciting battle for #1)

    Oslo, August 31st.
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Les Miserables.
    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    Safety Not Guaranteed
    Take This Waltz
    Life of Pi
    Sound of My Voice

    I should note that Les Mis is a strong challenger for #1, but I’ve seen Oslo and Perks twice and, well, they really hold up after two viewings. And neither has some weak spots like Les Miz does. But the emotional highs in Les Miz are higher than in Perks or Oslo.

    But any way you shake it, I love all three and any one would be my fave film since Once was released in 2007.

  • Jay

    I have a question for Sasha…

    Why do you consider The King’s Speech to be dated and old-fashioned but not Lincoln, a similar period piece but without the wit?

    I can assume that if Lincoln wins, Sasha will not accuse the Academy of being too old and white to chose anything more ‘cutting-edge’.

  • rufussondheim

    Gladiator got a 64 on metacritic, lower than Crash’s 69.

    And I think Gladiator is a good comparison here since it was definitely not as well received as Crouching Tiger or Traffic.

  • steve50

    Glad you weren’t disappointed, rufus – seriously.

    I will agree on one thing – Redmayne is amazing and he, alone, managed to make me forget most of my misgivings about the film (not the material).

  • rufussondheim

    Thanks, Steve.

    I wonder if I would have enjoyed Les Miz so much had I not just recently watched the excellent Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Oslo, August 31st. Both are extremely restrained and I wonder if the ability to let loose emotionally made me enjoy Les Miz more than I would have otherwise.

    These are only questions that can be answered in the years to come. I said before that I can only probably enjoy Les Miz once every two years or so. That’s my usual time frame for my favorite shows and movies that I’ve seen multiple times.

    Were I to go see Les Miz in a week, I would probably detest a good portion of it. (But that ending would still make me cry, I’m sure)

  • Josh

    Went with a group of 20 (yes TWENTY) this afternoon. 7 absolutely hated it. 8 thought it was good but nowhere near as good as they thought it would be/wanted it to be. 5 really liked it a lot. All of those five had never seen the show on broadway or read the book.

  • steve50

    That is a very interesting stat, Josh (the 5 who were unfamiliar with the original). That might be an important factor, in the endgame.

  • moviewatcher

    Sasha, how is this a “case for”? It’s more of a case against. Your dislike of Les Mis and Tom Hooper, especially, is clear all through these lines. And I especially laughed at this one:
    “All of that is to say what we knew going in — Les Miserables is a long shot both for a nomination and a win.”

    Les Mis is a LOCK for a BP nomination. You can quote me. A LOCK for a BP nomination. LOCKED up, FINISHED.

    Director is a whole other thing, but I don’t like that people are going Tom Hooper is OUT. No he’s not. He’s much lower on everybody’s lists due to the GG snub, but he’s not out of the race, by any stretch of imagination. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but everybody agrees: it’s a tearjerker emotional bomb. That is like… the perfect recipe for Oscar glory.

  • Josh

    ^ you’re wrong. Not everybody agrees it’s a tearjerker emotional bomb. Far from ‘everybody’ agrees with that.

  • amy

    Loved, loved, loved the movie. Everyone applauded, everyone cried. Came out and everyone had red eyes. Saw it with a bunch of friends who knew nothing of the story, and loved it. Certainly I can see it’s not for everyone, it is a musical after all. But when it affects someone emotionally, they will love it.

    I know a lot of Sasha’s analysis is heavily data driven. But at the end of the day, these numbers don’t mean everything – there are surprises all the time, and there will be a ‘first’ every year.

  • moviewatcher

    ^I think it’s a generally accepted fact that for many (if not most) in non-cinephile audiences, this movie is a tear-jerker (or at least very moving).

  • Josh

    ‘many’ and ‘if not most’ is way different than ‘everybody’.

  • steve50

    “I don’t like that people are going Tom Hooper is OUT. No he’s not.”

    Maybe he’s not out, but he should be.

    See the movie. All the emotion comes from the original material – every breath, gulp and tear.

    Hooper had nothing to do with it – he simply, if not self-consciously, filmed the musical, which is very different than making a great film of the musical.

    People are falling in love with it, in spite of him. You can see that in the text or subtext of almost every review or post when the writers talk about what they liked or didn’t like.

    Yes, he’ll likely get credit when the noms are announced, but undeservedly so.

  • moviewatcher

    Sorry, Josh. I just try and take into consideration the general reaction.

    Steve50: “Maybe he’s not out, but he should be.”

    When has THAT ever mattered for the Oscars? Plus, the singing live decision will make for great PR.

  • Great tentaive top ten list Rufus, and fabulous review! Thrilled to read that glowing response.

    I saw DJANGO this afternoon, and liked it more I thought I would, though it would be hard-pressed to make my own final list which presently it at the following titles not yet in any particular order. I have 15 here, but must tweek it down to ten (actually 11 as I always have a tire for the tenth spot)

    Les Miserables
    The Turin Horse
    War Witch
    Zero Dark Thirty
    The Life of Pi
    Oslo, August 17th
    The Impossible
    The Deep Blue Sea
    The Perks of Being A Wallflower
    Holy Motors
    The Kid on a Bike
    Monsieur Lazhar
    Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

  • amy

    Don’t forget directors also direct actors. Almost everyone have been praising the strong acting, even the negative reviews. That indirectly helps Hooper’s case.

    Adapting a movie from the musical with only singing is also a feat that helps his story, as well as the live singing factor. On paper it sounds impossible – who’s going to like a movie with only singing? There’s no way the burly guys in my group will go for that.

    He’s not going to win a second Oscar, but I will give him credit for at least doing something different.

  • Patrick

    So, yes, it may likely be nominated for Best Picture, but (as is evident in previous posts here) it is only because the audience is projecting themselves into the glory of the music. They get no assistance or guidance from the filmmaker and I actually think they achieve this goal despite him.

    Exactly! Couldn’t agree with you more, steve50. This is exactly what I thought coming out of the film.

    I don’t think I’d ever want to watch this movie again, but now I’d love to catch Les Mis on stage.

  • Is it just me, or is Broadway overrated?

    It’s you.

  • rufussondheim

    Patrick, I really think this is a better version than the stage version.

    Anyway, if you want to catche the stage version, there is a good approximation if you just watch either the 10th Anniversary or the 25th Anniversary concerts.

    You won’t get the staging, which is fine since the staging is beside the point for the most part. What you will get is each song being sung to the max, which is what many prefer. I prefer the intimacy the movie provided.

  • lucas

    Boy, this movie is bad. Truly dreadful. It’s turgid,
    tedious, clunky, cloying and overbloated. Hooper has no idea where to put the camera except up someone’s nostrils. No sense of pacing. The film just lays
    there, you feel trapped, and then you have to endure all that painful
    middlebrow schmaltz music. Three hours of sheer torture.

  • Bette

    Crash didn’t win. Brokeback lost. Because the Academy, as a whole, is a conservative cowardly homophobic body. Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, and “all their friends” didn’t even watch Brokeback, and openly said they wouldn’t because it was gay, and “John Wayne would roll over in his grave”. Nobody on the Academy Board of Governors even blinked. Imagine if that was said about a civil-rights themed film, or a Holocaust film, etc. Liberal CA? Well, only a year later it passed Prop 8, thanks to the old guard, where the Academy remains strong, and a disgraceful, disreputable body.

    As for bad reviews and diviseness, Crash wasn’t even nominated for the Best Picture Globe. It was 30something at the EW critics poll and 50something at the Premiere Magazine Critics poll. It was lucky to even get a 69 on metacritic, as few high-brow critics embraced it, and it was on worst Picture lists. Even Paul Haggis said Crash was very flowed, and that Brokeback should have won.

    Brokeback is the only film to win the PGA, DGA and WGA to lose the Oscar. It is the only film to win NY Crix, LA Crix, have the most nominations and the Globe, and lose the Oscar. Add the BAFTA, 20something Best Picture prizes (then, a record, more than Schindler’s List and Titanic combined). It dominated like no other film but Schindler’s List, and was tops at the box office among the Best Pic nominees by 50%.

    But they Academy couldn’t go gay, not back in 2005. Maybe someday. At the end of the decade, I kept track of the best-of-decade lists, over 100. 5 films dominated. Mulholland Dr. and Eternal Sunshine and Wall-e, none even nominated for the Oscar, loser There Will Be Blood (though there, at least it lost to another highly highly acclaimed top 10 of decade film, No Country), and of course, Brokeback Mountain. So much for the Oscars. I haven’t watched since Jack said “whoa”. I don’t miss them!

  • steve50

    “You won’t get the staging, which is fine since the staging is beside the point for the most part. ”

    Whoa, oh, rufus. I don’t want to use your own words against your point, my friend, but…

    The way I read it, that statement means we’re not talking about the positives of the film, just the contents, which I agree are very strong. The musical are great in the immediacy of live theater and the songs very involving in a filmed concert. This was a chance to make a film of the material.

    Staging being beside the point was the option chosen here, but, in this case, it’s a cake baked in the wrong pan. It’ll taste basically the same, but could have been so much more.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    So, Rufus, what say you on Oscar chances? Still getting up to 15 noms? And categories where it’s strong to win?

  • PJ

    Saw it to see what the all the fuss was about. I haven’t laughed as hard in a movie theater since Green Lantern. I think instead of being called Les Miserables, it should be called Oscar demo reels by Tom Hooper!

  • PaulinJapan

    My faith in the Academy is pretty low after TSN lost out to TKS despite sweeping critical acclaim. They like what they like, and I can definitely see them liking Les Mis. This year is wide open, and the Best Pic winner could actually have around 30% of first place votes, or less. Argo, Lincoln, ZD30 are going to take votes from each other, whereas Les Mis fans will be hardcore. The problem, as Sasha points out, is that it’ll either get first place votes, or be way down the list.

  • Jay

    Benjamin Button got very similar reviews. It didn’t win but it did rack up a whopping 13 nominations.

  • rufussondheim

    Not sure what your point is, but I think (maybe) you misunderstood mine. I’ve long held that the staging of Les Miz (like the live theatrical experience) is the weakest aspect of the show. It’s entirely based on a rotating stage. It was kinda neat at the time but, really, it’s a gimmick and I think it ultimately weakens the show as it’s unable to do much else besides go round.

    I think if you watch one of the anniversary concerts you can get a good idea of the live theatrical experience. None of this has to do with the direction of the film. One of the reasons the film works better than the stage version is enormous canvas Hooper uses (that’s no great comment on Hooper’s direction as any director would do the same) that brings some of the more static aspects of the stage show to a more fuller realization. (Hooper did incorporate a few sly references to the stage version, most notably the death of Enjolras as he gets caught in the window not completely falling out).


    Tero. Thanks for holding that 15 nomination number against me, I think I used that as an upper limit, something to aim for if it’s an utter masterpiece. But since then, it’s been shown the score is ineligible, so I have to find 14 nominations somewhere!

    I think it has sure nominations and wins in Best Supporting Actress and Hair and Makeup. Probably costumes too since there was a greater variety here than in Lincoln and unless Anna Karenina or The Hunger Games suprises in some way I think it’s gotta go to Les Miz.

    I think it has sure nominations in Best Picture, Best Actor. You’d think it would have it in Production Design and one of the Sound categories (not sure how they’ve been divided but the more generic one). It could easily win any of these categories too.

    Then there’s likely nominations in Cinematography, Song and Editing. None of them are surefire bets. The Song (Suddenly) is pretty unspectacular and with the Song committe with the Oscars you never know what they are going to do, especially with the new rules (again) this year. I didn’t think the Cinematography was anything special. The Master, Life of Pi, Skyfall were all better. And competing against Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty for those final two spots might be tough (and Argo too). And Editing is a fucking crapshoot so I have no clue on that one.

    I think it will get a nomination in Adapted Screenplay but it’s a competitive category. If the writers embrace the changes and the added dialogue, it might, but I suspect the impression is that the heavy lifting was done for the stage version and little was done here. But this is a group that nominated Kenneth Branagh for Hamlet that was a near duplicate of Shakespeare, so it’s anyone’s guess what they will think.

    I think Redmayne is deserving of the nomination in Supporting Actor, and, at this point, probably deserves it over the likely top competition of Tommy Lee Jones and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I loved Hoffman quite a but, but I think Redmayne is revelatory here. But his performance has not been embraced by SAG or the GG so it’s a longshot for him to be nominated. Hopefully enough Academy members see it (they may not have in time for the SAG noms). One thing in his favor is that the field is wide open and anything could happen at this point. (Also if I were nominating there is a chance I’d toss Crowe in there as well, but that’s unlikely)

    So that leaves what categories left? Best Actress where no one will obviously be nominated, And Score for which it is not eligible. Visual Effects are not a possibility, and the other Sound Category (which was once known as Sound Effects Editing) doesn’t seem at all likely either.

    So to sum up

    Wins – Best Supporting Actress, Hair and Makeup, Costumes

    Surefire Nominations – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Production Design. Sound (the generic one.

    Maybe nominations – Director, Song, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing,

    Longshot nomination – Best Supporting Actor (Redmayne)

    So that’s anywhere from 7 to 12. So let’s predict 9 nominations

  • Linc4Jess

    Finally got a chance to see two of the last three film ‘Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained” that are constantly being talked up as best picture material. Glad I did so I can discuss the pluses and minus of the films with some knowledge of what I am talking about. Still have to see “ZDT”. First, let me say, I enjoyed the film “Les Miserables”, but, for me “Les Miserables” wasn’t as emotional and uplifting as some people who love the musical and or film are stating.. As a matter of fact I thought it lacked emotion, heart, and yes, Romance. Yes, the film has beautiful imagery, amazing sets, some fine action sequences and fine musical numbers and the actors do a great job singing their numbers but the film lack something to make it a great film. Probably the lack of chemistry between the actors. I know most people are pushing Anne Hathaway for the OSCAR and I have no problem with that but if I was voting I would be giving my vote to Samantha Bark as ” Eponine” as she had the only and most effective romantic moments in the film and did a great job in her singing performance. I also thought Crowe did a fine job in belting out three of his solo extending numbers and probably deserves a nod for his performance. Overall, From where I sat the film is beautiful to see and to hear but it is uneven and lacks romance and emotional lift. But that is just me. 3 stars out of 4.

  • Linc4Jess

    Now if we start to talk “Django Unchained” I will just say for now…I thought this film was terrific.

  • Danborman

    I am not a film critic, just a fan. Les Mis was my 1st musical (in London) almost 20 yrs ago and I was hooked. Although I think Russell Crowe was a mistake, the movie was spellbinding….the most I’ve ever cried at a movie. I’m not a Hathaway fan ( esp her politics) but her solo was incredibly intense and moving. Hugh Jackman was simply amazing (i admit i have a man crush now) and while I’m usually tired and ready for the end (when seeing the musical) “empty chairs” struck me like never before. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe my expectations were low or at least uncertain; maybe I gave Hooper a lot of latitude w his approach, but I loved it. It is an amazing story of mercy, forgiveness, and redemption. The perfect Christmastime story and one I never tire of.

  • Mark F.

    I’m still predicting “Argo” for the win. It felt like a winner when I saw it, and it still does. But nobody knows anything.

  • rufussondheim

    Watched segments of the 10th Anniversary Concert tonight and parts of the 25th. The 25th is terrible in comparison to the tenth, even though some of the principle actors are better.

    Concentrated on the aspects of the movie I loved best and, gosh, the movie is better by far. I don’t know how a fan of the musical can not love the movie. My only explanation for that was if the person only ever knew one version and had very specific expectations. But if a fan has absorbed the many different recordings and concerts and shows, they probably don’t have firm expectations of what any one song should sound like.

    The movie is just so damn good. It really is. I weep for those who can’t appreciate it and wish I could share the joy the film has given me. I am exuberant today (and after having watched Perks again this evening, I am also infinite.

    I am exuberant and infinite. And just having watched Oslo again last night, wow. I am in heaven. Having these three movies with me is heaven. It really is. They all deserve Best Pic status.

  • Jake Bart

    At this point, I don’t see how anyone can view “Les Miserables” as anything but a lock… for a nomination. I think the ship has sailed on it winning Picture, but if the money keeps pouring in, AMPAS will really have no choice but to recognize the success with a nod. This isn’t “Dreamgirls” or “Nine” or “Cold Mountain” or any of the other early front-runners that floundered at the finish line. It’ll make it there, but not without some devastating bruises.

    Here’s my scenario:
    Les Mis earns second most nods to “Lincoln”
    Wins for a few techs (think sound, perhaps art direction or costume) and Hathaway takes Supporting Actress as the sort of consolation prize.
    Hooper juuuuust sneaks in to director (least confident in this one.)

    One last thing:
    I know the big hit on the reviews is the “No 100 scores on MC” but if the NY Post had Kyle Smith reviewing it instead of Lou Lemenick, there’d be a perfect score. I know this sounds like “shoulda, woulda, coulda” but when a print critic names it the #1 film of the year, you can’t really say that NO CRITICS love it.
    The real hit on “Les Mis” should be the number of people who absolutely tear it apart. Phillips in the Chicago Trib was merciless and despite the benign C-grade, Schwarzbaum’s review struck a particularly bloodthirsty tone. I don’t see a lack of love being the roadblock to a “Les Mis” win, merely the numerous dismissals it has received.

  • JJ

    Listen to the opening of I Dreamed a Dream. It’s basically a soliloquy to gay men and the coming aids epidemic.

    “There was a time when men were kind
    When their voices were soft
    And their words inviting
    There was a time when love was blind
    And the world was a song
    And the song was exciting
    There was a time
    Then it all went wrong…”


  • John

    And the reviews, while still at a nice 73 percent, continue to be divisive. The last 2 registered couldn’t be more polar opposite from each other. It’s just one of those movies.

  • Jake, excellent analysis and one I am mostly in agreement with. However I still believe LES MISERABLES has a shot on going all the way, as I perceive some hidden passion that will surface during the voting. Also, there are only TWO (2) negative reviews on MC for the film at this point: the one you mention and the one from SLANT’s Callum Marsh.

    Leaving off the 11 mixed reviews, the numbers are 17 favorable to 2 negative. Anyone who continues to argue that the film has received “bad” reviews has ulterior motives. The numbers clearly suggest otherwise. And yeah Smith has it as best of the year (100) and the audience response there is impressive. There will always be some haters when it comes to movie musicals, this is a given. But all things considered Hooper’s film is doing resasonably well in that department.

    And great prediction submission there Rufus!!!

  • Casey

    I truly hated this movie sadly. Agree with sasha, the direction and closeups were near fatal. It was overlong and uninteresting to me.

    What did I like?
    * I quite liked sasha baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter (thankful for them and for master of the house – the best song in the film)
    * I thought Eddie redmayne was the one who moved me most. Not Hathaway, not jackman. I think, if anyone, he should be getting recognition.

    What did I really not like:
    * Hathaways hammy “I must get my Oscar” performance. It was too overtop and when she started flowing tears you could just see behind those eyes “OH IM GONNA GET THAT OSCAR”
    * the direction and cinematography, oh my
    * Russell Crowe miscast

    Overall I was disappointed, I had no real expectations, but with all the awards buzz I was left going …. Huh?

  • “What did I really not like:
    * Hathaways hammy “I must get my Oscar” performance. It was too overtop and when she started flowing tears you could just see behind those eyes “OH IM GONNA GET THAT OSCAR”

    Right. If you can find a SINGLE person in addition to yourself who feels that way, you deserve to win a prize. Even the nay-sayers are praising it. The “I’m gonna get that Oscar” comment is what is over the top here! Should we assume then that Sally Field’s big scene with Day-Lewis was also of the same variety, screaming for Oscar?

  • steve50

    Sam – both screamed “I’m gonna get that Oscar”, which is why I’m rooting (maybe alone) for Doona Bae. Less is more, sometimes.

  • Steve—

    What do you expect an actor or actress to do when they give a performance? Should they act less forcefully because a few readers on Awards Daily will claim they have motives for giving a great performance? You say “less is more?” In what sense?

    I judge acting by the craft, not by perceived ulterior motives.

    The most in your face performance in the history of the cinema was given by Renee Falconetti in Dreyer’s THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. More is more. Completely. And perhaps the greatest performance of all-time.

    You are entitled to your opinion of course. But it seems an overwhelming majority are touting Hathaway and Fields. And methinks for good reason.

    But fair enough.

  • Jay, Rufus, and Jake Bart make excellent points about Les Mis’ Oscar chances.

    My guesses (BP, Dir, Act, Sup. Actress, Cinematography, Editing, Song, Makeup, Costumes, Art Direction, Sound Mixing). So, I’m thinking 11 total maximum compared to a Lincoln 12 or 13. Jake Bart is right, Les Mis will just barely get in for director, I imagine, with Cinematography being a soft if. And, of course, Song is always a crap shoot for any movie, because it’s a hard out here for a pimp.

    That would be fun if there were 15 (add Screenplay, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sound Editing, but that ain’t happening).

    As far as wins: Anne, Sound Mixing, Song, one or two more technicals at a minimum.

    Too bad Ernest Borgnine isn’t available to boycott it.

    Henry Winkler aka The Fonz was blown away by this movie. The Fonz. LOL

  • Sally’s big scene was doing that tally during the vote in the climax. Riveting stuff. LOL

    Truth be told, I thought she was one of the strongest elements of the film, tally scene aside. Makes me laugh to think back to November when we had critics quoting stranger’s reactions from early screenings (wow, how time flies) that people were dissing her work.

  • steve50

    “Renee Falconetti in Dreyer’s THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC. More is more. Completely. And perhaps the greatest performance of all-time.”

    Wow! I just watched this for the 2nd time the other night. First time I said the same thing – greatest performance on film. 2nd time didn’t change my opinion.

    Yeah, I’m not big on scenery-chewing – prefer the quiet look or expression. Rage/Despair/Anger impresses the first time, but wears thin eventually, for me anyway. I still refer to the Bale/Leo duo in The Fighter as “ham ‘n cheese”.

    Of course the race is between Hathaway and Field – no argument there.

  • Steve I’d say there is room for both styles when warranted. It depends on what the role requires. Fantine was that kind of character on stage. Waltz was a scenery-chewer in INGLORIOUS BASTERDS, and there have been may such roles and performances.

    But thrilled to hear that response to JOAN OF ARC, which is one of the greatest of all films.

  • steve50

    Agreed, what is required is key. Performances like Waltz, Kline in A Fish Called Wanda (and a few others I can’t think of right now), are part of an absurdist or farcical vision – the further out on a limb you go, the better. Waltz was my favorite performance that year, so it’s not a hard and fast rule.

    When you imagine how Jackie Weaver could have played the predatory grandmother in Animal Kingdom, you have to admit that underplaying as she did was far more sinister and bang on the money. On the other hand, Beatrice Straight’s minute(s) long release in Network was also the right choice. So, you’re right, it depends.

  • dinasztie

    Sam Juliano: I thought Anne’s performance was really “OH I’M GONNA GET MY OSCAR!!!!!”. It was way too much though I must say it was the best part of the movie (not that difficult, since that one’s a trainwreck).

  • dinasztie: Fair enough. Apparently the nation’s various CRITICS GROUPS are not in agreement with you, as Hathaway in finishing first or second in virtually all the ballotting over the past weeks.

    The critics have no use for Oscar at all, they just gage the performance.

    But your rationale we should go back and disqualify every Oscar winner in the acting categories as a product of “wanting to win Oscars.”

    Artistic accomplishment is just what it is. If awards are given so be it.

    The entire argument is bizarre.

    As far as the movie being a “trainwreck” that’s the company line from the naysayers.

    Let’s have something more original.

    Of 37 critics on MC right now, only TWO (2) consider it a train wreck.

  • Steve, good show there! I can’t say I have a problem with any of that at all.

  • The critics have no use for Oscar at all, they just gage the performance.

    Straight from the NYFCC’s website: The Circle’s awards are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations, which are announced each February.

    Not buying that, Sam.

    Of 37 critics on MC right now, only TWO (2) consider it a train wreck.

    And perhaps dinasztie is another. The deficiency of people of this opinion doesn’t invalidate it.

  • Paddy I am hust going by the numbers, nothing more. There will be haters here for sure as there were for THE MASTER.

    And what you say firstly they is nothing more than a predicter. (harbinger) It does not remotely mean that any of the NYFCC have any use for Oscar. Critics all over the country have voted Anne Hathaway as either first, second or third on their ballots, not because they see her as the prospective Oscar winner (far from it) but because they genuinely believe she gave the best or nearly the best performance. Rachel Weisz won Best Actress from NYFCC not because she was expected to follow up at Oscar, but because the group deemed her the best in the category, even if the intricacies of the voting have revealed she was a compromise choice. She still got the nod.

    In any case if you look back over the past 15 years (and I’m sure you have) you’ll see that the NYFCC rarely agrees with Oscar in the Best Picture category.

    The point is that what the critics do with influence Oscar, not the other way around as the time sequence confirms.

  • Patrick

    Of 37 critics on MC right now, only TWO (2) consider it a train wreck.

    Not sure why you keep bringing this up, Sam. Are you defending Les Mis’ chances as a Best Picture nominee? Or as a Best Picture winner?

    Because there’s no denying it’ll be nominated (at least not from me). But I highly doubt it can beat out the other contenders for the win.

    Like you say, Les Mis only has 2 “bad” reviews on MC. This is equal to the number of “bad” reviews for Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Life Of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, The Master, Amour, Django Unchained and Beasts Of The Southern Wild all combined. And each and every one of these movies has at least one 100 score, except for Les Mis.

    So it’s not that Les Mis is a generally hated film; it’s just more hated than the other contenders, which are loved just as much as (and maybe even more than) Les Mis.

  • Patrick, I keep bringing it up because some seem to believe a single opinion is gaging the entire population. I am already figuring a Best Picture nomination is a 100% certainty, with Hooper at about 50-50 for Best Director.

    Am I saying that LES MISERABLES will ultimately win the top rize over LINCOLN, ARGO and ZERO? No. I am not. I am saying it has a shot, and am basically holding one of the torches here to keep that possibility alive when the haters come in to summarily dismiss it’s chances.

    How could it realistically win?

    A vote-split between LINCOLN, ZERO and ARGO for the non-musical members who favor the real-life historical/political dramas, allowed the musical faction to come up through the middle for a win.

    Likely? Not especially. But very possible.

    And I do know that all those other great films you mentioned (well mostly great, I wan’y a BEASTS nor PLAYBOOK fan myself) only have a combined total of negatives, but the point I made here is it is still ONLY 2. This is the argument I use when some say that LES MISERABLES has revieved BAD reviews. It has for sure, but only in the minority when the full picture is gaged.

  • Glenn UK

    Thankfully, a long long time ago, I stopped listening to anything that critics said about films. I would read reviews and have high expectations and then come away thinking “what the fuck did they see”. And then again I have avoided films because critics said they were so bad and then when they have come out on DVD I’ve loved them. Personally, I think critics are a bunch of assholes – they are all clamouring to “be heard”. They are full of their own self importance. I think AMPAS members think the same too. You only have to look at The Social Network to see that AMPAS were not going to be told by the critics which was the best film that year. When it comes to the best picture winner this year, you need to look at movies which have heart. If a movie leaves you feeling cold then look elsewhere. AMPAS are all for going with the heart – if we are to follows any statistics then that is the one to look at, not your RT or MC.

  • Patrick

    This is the argument I use when some say that LES MISERABLES has revieved BAD reviews. It has for sure, but only in the minority when the full picture is gaged.

    Of course it’s only in the minority. Heck, even John Carter’s bad reviewers are a minority on MC. No one’s denying it’s in the minority. It’s just that Les Mis’ minority is larger than the other contenders’ minority.

    The point is, people who bring up that Les Mis is hurt by its bad reviews are merely pointing out that the other contenders are much stronger, because they haven’t received such bad reviews. IMHO, this is a fine argument.

    But at the end of the day, if the “vote-split” is the reason why you think Les Mis can win, then MC doesn’t need to be brought up in the first place.

  • Casey

    Btw I am FAR from the only person who thought Hathaway was overdone oscar pandering

  • Philip

    Casey I agree 100% with you. I was worried that the last line of the “song”, if you want to call what she did singing, was gonna be AND THE OSCAR IS MINE! It was total garbage.

  • Patrick

    A vote-split between LINCOLN, ZERO and ARGO for the non-musical members who favor the real-life historical/political dramas, allowed the musical faction to come up through the middle for a win.
    Likely? Not especially. But very possible.

    By the way, I think this is highly improbable (if not nearly impossible) for the Best Pic win. Even if there’s a vote-split for #1s between Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Argo, they’ll still end up as the #2s and #3s of their ballots. Whereas Les Mis will only ever show up at #1 or #10. Thanks to the preferential system, niche favorites rarely prevail over consensus films. Unless of course you believe that this “musical faction” makes up 50% of the voters…

  • Herb

    People who say that Hathaway’s acting was garbage should sell their teeth, hair and become prostitutes. THEN they can say that.

  • Patrick, I am under the impression that the second stage of voting differs from the first in that the voters only vote for a SINGLE FILM once teh nominees are named. So there will NOT be a No. 2 of a No. 2 or a No. 5 or whatever. If I am right (and perhaps at some point someone else here will verify this) then LES MISERABLES could conceivably win by drawing enough votes. As to your “50%” query, the answer is no, buit 50% won’t be needed.

    LES MISERABLES could win with as little at 26 or 27% of the total vote.

    This is why it can never be ruled out. This is the scenario that unfolded in 1951, when AN AMERICAN IN PARIS won in a big upset over the favored dramas.

    The musical loving contingent in the Academy is not numerically a huge faction, but it’s a formidable number that could make the difference if the votes split all over the place. The prevailing position at this site is that LINCOLN will ultimately win (and make no mistake about it I love LINCOLN–it’s one of my absoluite favorite films of the year) because it is perceived voters who might be leaning topward ARGO or ZERO may cast their vote for Spielberg’s film in the end, and it’s a reasonable position.

    And I said in my e mail that all this was a bit of a long-shot- I am admitted that- I am just saying it COULD happen if everything comes together.

    Listen I am working overtime today. Where are the other members of my LES MIZ police fraternity? C’mon guys spell me a bit!!

  • Philip

    Herb, she was awful. You can try to spin it anyway you want, but the fact that she could barely sing the song is the sole reason that she shouldn’t be nominated. She said that she didn’t want to do the big loud production of the number, fact is she would have never been able to sing it.

  • Phillip is right. She was TERRIBLE!!!! She can’t sing to save her life! All the critics who are praising her performance are idiots. What do they know? As to all the hardened LES MIZ producers and vocal scouts who found Hathaway and now claim she’s the best Fantine ever, what would THEY know? And even those who hate the film who are still saying Hathaway was great what would they know.

    Phillip is the guy to reckon with here.

    If anyone is “spinning” here it is he, sitting on his own private desert island after commitment from Greystone.

  • Here is Mahohla Dargis of THE NEW YORK TIMES, who is one of our finer critics, a position that the brass here at AD have maintained for quite some time.

    Dargis is listed at MC as giving the film a medicocre ’50’:

    “She’s playing Fantine, the factory worker turned prostitute turned martyr, and singing the showstopping “I Dreamed a Dream,” her gaunt face splotched red and brown. The artful grunge layered onto the cast can be a distraction, as you imagine assistant dirt wranglers anxiously hovering off camera. Ms. Hathaway, though, holds you rapt with raw, trembling emotion. She devours the song, the scene, the movie, and turns her astonishing, cavernous mouth into a vision of the void.”

    This is one of dozens and dozens of reviews that are praising Hathaway.

    Next we will hear from these purposeful contraians that Hugo is a terrible writer. Guaranteed.

  • steve50

    “People who say that Hathaway’s acting was garbage should sell their teeth, hair and become prostitutes. THEN they can say that”

    Good line, but I dare anyone to try and pronounce the word “garbage” with no teeth.

    Seriously, not a backer of the film, but Les Mis is a lock for a BP nom and a formidiable contender to the prize. Like Sam says – you don’t need a big percentage in a close horserace like this is going to be – 23% will do just fine.

  • Philip

    O wow Sam, the producers saying she is the best ever… Wow are they trying to hype up the film for MONEY! Ahh, who would have thought.

  • So Steve, I did have that voting procedure stage called correctly then? The second round is just a single vote for a single film?

    Don’t get me wrong, I still see LINCOLN as the probably winner (and I’m good with that as I love that film too) but depending on how things progress, it could still get very interesting.

  • Herb

    Philip, that’s because the movie gave a different approach to the song. I Dreamed a Dream, in the play, is sung before most of the unfortunate events happen. Also, since everybody in the theater can perfectly see the actor’s expressions during the movie, she has to be more “realistic” (especially given the cinematography of the film, that I hated by the way). Hathaway’s version of the song is not the best, but, IMHO, is far from being bad.

  • Herb


    Touché 🙂

  • Not just the producers Phillip. The fellow actors and singers, all the critics, 99.9% of the audiences, Broadway professionals.

    To what advantage would it be for all of these to praise her performance?

    Let me try and guess.

    Maybe, just maybe………could it be she gave the best performance in the supporting actress race? Would that be possible?

  • Patrick

    Sam, that is the old voting system, for the Best Picture winner. Here’s an explanation of the current system:

    A key takeaway from the article: “As a result, a movie universally liked stands a better chance at winning the Academy Award for Best Picture than one that has both passionate believers and detractors.”

    I agree that Les Mis still has a chance of winning (though minimal), but it won’t be due to split votes.

  • OK Patrick that changes things quite significantly. In my view, that would diminish the chances of LES MISERABLES winning Best Picture, as this excerpt from the write-up is telling:

    “As a result, a movie universally liked stands a better chance at winning the Academy Award for Best Picture than one that has both passionate believers and detractors. That’s good news for “Argo,” “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” three films that seem most likely to win Best Picture when the Oscars are handed out on Feb. 24, 2013.”

    Under the old system LES MISERABLES would have had a good chance in the event of severe vote splits. One thing that Sasha Stone and others have rightly maintained all along is that the musical has fervent fans and unapologetic detractors. Under the new system, where teh final winner would appear to need a more universal regard, it seems now even less likely, though of course still not impossible.

    Most of the smart money is on LINCOLN. Will be seeing Spielberg’s film again tonight with some friends. Thanks for posting the Huffington piece Patrick!

  • rufussondheim

    Other movies splitting the vote will get you to #2, but it can’t get you to #1.

    One movie is eliminated per round of voting (the one with the least number of #1 votes) and then everything is recalculated as that movie gets eliminated.

    Eventually it comes down to 2 films and you have to be #1 on 50% + 1 ballots. Personally, I think Les Miz will finish at least #2. But, sadly we’ll never know (unless we’re fucking that old guy from Price Waterhouse)

    The eventual winner will be the movie that’s #1 amongst the non-Les Miz ballots. And I think that will be ZDT, not Lincoln. It’s the critical favorite and, well, if the longshot weepy film doesn’t win, it’s usually the critical favorite that wins. At least lately.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Yes, Rufus, I guess I teased you a little with those 15 noms, but you were not the only one thinking that way just about a month ago. I still think it’s gonna get double digits rather than 9, but it s almost certain now that Lincoln will lead the nominations. If Lincoln gets only 9, it would be seen as a “failure”.

    I’m guessing 12 for Lincoln, 10 for Les Mis, 8 for Argo and ZDT – or something along those lines.

    Now, I think Universal should put all-in for Redmayne, because he could be the surprise winner. It’s not rare that both supporting categories go to the same film. It just happened recently with The Fighter, and Jones and Hoffman seem like they’re neck in neck. And maybe they’d like to have some “new blood” somewhere (when almost everybody is at least a previous nominee if not winner). Barks seems to be out and maybe that’s a good thing for Hathaway. Plus they need to make room for Dowd and the likes.

    From actors Day-Lewis is the surest bet, and I don’t think anyone will beat him there. It doesn’t matter that he already has two Oscars. Actress is trickier, I see. I think Chastain will get that one.

  • Casey

    For the record I don’t think Hathaway was garbage, just not oscar material. Thought she did better work in Rachel getting married years ago

  • rufussondheim

    I’d love to write a better “Case for” for Les Miz even though I won’t as it’s not necessary. But I think it’s a much better film than people are giving it credit. At the risk of sounding like an Yvette or a SallyinChicago, I think people are anti-Les Miz for some reason that has nothing to do with the film.

    Because what I see is an impassioned plea for equality, and I think Hooper de-emphasized some of the more romantic notions of the film and emphasized the fighting for equality aspects of the show. this is a plea not of emotion, but of morality. He expanded and made more detailed the deaths of the student soldiers, most specifically of Enjolras, who was given an entire scene to die, and he allowed him even to make a short speech discussing that death is better than the alternative. Then, throw in the changes to Do You Hear the People Sing being in the public, sung by the masses rather than the secluded group of students.

    But what really capped it off for me was the barricade at the end, with all of the people who had passed and gave them a full rousing reprise of the song, emphasizing that aspect of the show. Sure, the stage version ends with the same song, but it comes off more as a way to end the show rather than a plea for change as it does in the movie.

    Maybe I perceive the show differently because my politics have becoime more defined. While I always rooted for the underdog, I am more versed in the plight of the unprivileged, I am more astute in recognizing inequality at the core of society and not just at its margins. I don’t know.

    But I was moved as I’ve never been moved before by the music, the story, the characters as I was when I saw the film. And it beguiles me when people say they didn’t see anything in it. All I can feel is incredulity at such proclamations, that the reason that they see nothing is that they were looking for nothing. If you are looking for something and find nothing in Les Miz, I don’t think that’s Hooper’s fault. He laid it all in there, beautifully, and it should be recognized by any impartial viewer. It’s a stunning accomplishment and I will treasure it for years.

    Do you hear the people sing?
    Singing a song of angry men?
    It is the music of a people
    Who will not be slaves again!
    When the beating of your heart
    Echoes the beating of the drums
    There is a life about to start
    When tomorrow comes!

    Will you join in our crusade?
    Who will be strong and stand with me?
    Beyond the barricade
    Is there a world you long to see?
    Then join in the fight
    That will give you the right to be free!

    Will you give all you can give
    So that our banner may advance
    Some will fall and some will live
    Will you stand up and take your chance?
    The blood of the martyrs
    Will water the meadows of France!

    Do you hear the people sing?
    Singing a song of angry men?
    It is the music of a people
    Who will not be slaves again!
    When the beating of your heart
    Echoes the beating of the drums
    There is a life about to start
    When tomorrow comes!

  • BillD

    I love the Stage show, but hated the Film Musical version which was just released. I could not wait for the film to end. Film actors are no match for live musical actors/singers. Sorry there is just no comparison. I think the actors in the film, did a good job given the fact that they are not professional singers. I wish they used actual musical theatre singers vs the “Hollywood” actors.
    The film felt to me like a “Greatest Hits” video, song after song, with barely any “Breathing Room” between numbers. I know the film will make millions and am glad that some people seem to love it. The greatest thing that this will do in my opinion, is bring the live show back on the road. Which I cannot wait to see again in the flesh. With a strong professional stage musical ensemble.
    Leave Russell Crow acting in drama’s and keep the professional singers singing. No offense Mr. Crow, You did a great job for being a Film Actor, trying to sing a “Broadway” musical, but sorry it cannot compare to a professional stage singer/actor. Sorry my brother.

  • rufussondheim

    I had forgotten that I Dreamed a Dream took place before Lovely Ladies rather than directly after as shown in the film. This was yet another great decision by Hooper in that it allows Hathaway to explore even more despair, desperation and, indeed, anger at the events that befell her.

  • rufussondheim

    Poor BillD, I feel bad for you that you didn’t get a note for note reproduction of the stage experience. Feel free to watch the 10th Anniversary Concert if that is what you seek. Oh, and when you get tired of that, please watch the 25h Anniversary Concert. Except that has a Jonas Brother rather than Eddie Redmayne. But I’m guessing you prefer the Jonas Brother.

    I guess, perhaps, you don’t realize that Broadway Singers, at least the ones that can belt out these operatic tunes usually can’t act very well. Take a look at poor Samantha Barks who many (misguided) people think is the greatest stage Eponine but in the movie she never captures the emotion of her character when you see her in close up (or even in medium shots)

    The movie would be terrible if they kept Broadway Stars (Rent, anyone) in these roles.

    Hooper made the smart decision, and I hope that someday you revisit the film with your altered expectations. I think you will see where I am coming from (at least I hope)

  • Mattoc

    I thought the casting of Samantha Barks was great. She added contrast to an otherwise star-studded ensemble, and to me anyway, stood out for the right reasons.
    I have just seen the movie so still very much processing it. I do know that Hugh Jackman’s acting was phenomenal.

  • rufussondheim

    I guess I am partial to the original Eponine played by Frances Ruffelle. She has the most operatic voice of the well-known Eponines (which include Barks and Lea Salonga) and her portrayal of Eponine is a bit over the top and the character comes off slightly more than a tad batty, which I think is how someone would be if they were raised by the Thenardiers (Bonham Carter and Baron Cohen).

    The quality is not quite there but you can see her performance and hear her glorious voice in this performance of One Day More at the Tonys.


  • Mattoc

    Sure, she has a great voice, but I haven’t seen her in the role in its entirety – so I can’t really judge.

    The audience applauded at the end of the film, which is non-existent outside of a film festival. So I would say the film is “critic-proof” already.

  • BillD

    Stage Acting existed way before Screen Acting. I was certainly not looking for a note by note reproduction in this latest musical motion picture version of LM but I have to say, there are better singers out there and available then were chosen in this version.

    Also there was no breathing room between numbers, how much non musical acting was there even in this picture? Not much at all, it felt like a LM greatest hits video, except minus the greatest singers. Sorry I gave it a chance, I honestly don’t get the hype, but then again I don’t get the hype about Lincoln either (minus DDL who is always a treat to watch).

    I love the stage version of LM, I love the music and the songs, this latest motion picture did not nail it IMHO. Sure Anne starved herself for the role, did as best of a job she could with the singing and cried real tears, but is that honestly enough to justify a Oscar? Not that true excellence is ever really required for the award, but that is a whole other discussion.

  • Bill, be rest assured that if Hathaway wins, it will be because of a rightful perception that she SANG brilliantly, not because she starved herself. (Dargis of THE NEW YORK TIMES in a very mixed review of LES MIZ got it right in her assessment of Hathaway. As to your question about “non musical acting” in this film, there is none!!! Just as there wasn’t much in stage versions. The play and film were written in the tradition of opera.

    If I were to believe what you were saying here, then perhaps I should changed my own perception as to why Robert DeNiro and Charlize Theron have won past Oscars.

    I would like to share an e mail I received yesterday from one of my site colleague and good friend Maurizio Roca, who has traditionally taken a hostile position again film musicals and movies that “wear their heart on their sleeves.” While I will take issue with his concept of emotional manipulation on the e mail chain, I was completely delighted and shocked at his overall 4/5 star reaction to this film:

    “Just got back from seeing Les Miserables. Half the audience including my girlfriend were crying at the end. I was pleasantly surprised by the film and it’s power at times. Anne Hathaway, Huge Jackman, and Eddie Redmayne gave outstanding performances. The film does often teether on a kind of overbearingly ugly attempt at profundity that it does not possess. While I enjoyed the movie immensely, it would be dishonest to say it’s core is anything but shallow emotional manipulation maxed to the limit of human comprehension. Still I found much that worked and enjoyed my time watching it. I must say that Russell Crowe can’t sing to save his life and both Borat and Mrs Tim Burton were extremely annoying throughout. Positives come in the absolutely astonishing moments that feature Hathaway, Redmayne’s solo about the shadows of his fallen friends, several show-stopping bits by Jackman (including the end), and Crowe’s removal of his soldier’s broach/badge to pin on a fallen kid. These scenes really made the film for me and were lovingly staged. Hooper’s decision to employ closeups during almost every solo was a + and a – for me. I feel that he would of been better off employing such cinematic tricks more sparingly instead of every five to ten minutes. I guess since subtleness basically goes out the window after about 20 seconds in Les Miserables, such a game plan had no chance of being implemented.

    **** overall. I went in expecting to hate the film but was mostly won over by Hooper’s middle of the road adeptness. It’s basically on the same level as The King’s Speech. Very good but not quite masterful in a way cinema should be IMO. Playing at my local theater, a decision was made to see this instead of trekking to Manhattan to catch ZDT, Amour, or Tabu in the wintry weather. I was not disappointed and happy I got to see Les Miserables.”

  • Here is my response to Maurizio, one that makes my own “case” for the film a bit more comprehensive than many of my past “cheerleading” comments on this thread:

    Maurizio, I must say I am shocked, delighted and bowled over by this reaction! I would have lost my home if I would have placed a wager, and frankly it proves once and for all that I can no longer make blanket expectations on how you will automatically react of any particular ‘type’ or ‘genre’ anymore. Yes, you do nail the aspects and components of the film that work the best of all (Hathaway, Jackman, the showstopping “I Dreamed A Dream,” that magnificent wrenching Redmayne solo near the end, “Empty Chairs, Empty Tables,” and the emotionally overwhelming finale in the church. I’d add the lovely duet “A Heart Full of Love” with Redmayne and Seyfried, Jackman’s beloved anthem “Bring Him Home,” Crowe’s one big moment “Stars,” Samantha Barks’ magnificent “On My Own” staged in the rain, and the rousing superbly edited in montage style “One Day More” to the list of unforgettable moments. Various smaller numbers like Cosette’s “Castle in the Cloud” and Jackman’s “Who Am I?” are woven into the musical fabric of this phenomenon as well. The singing of Hathaway, Jackman, Redmayne, and Barks was top-rank, while Seyfried was quite effectrive as well.

    While I must agree with you on Cohen and Carter as curiously forgettable as the evil Thenardiers, and the relatively weak staging of one of the orginal show’s most cherished numbers, “Master of the House,” I will take issue with a few things you said here in dissent. First of all, Crowe can sing well enough (no Michael Crawford of course. Ha!) but passable and able to negotiate the big moments. The problem is that his relatively flat trajectory contridicts the more emotionally tinged voice work of all the others. Sure this can be explained in part by the nature of his role, with is monotone in it’s dogged determination, but Crowe despite his commanding physical presence, simply wasn’t ‘demonic’ enough as one of world literature’s most infamous characters. Think for example of Charles Venal and Charles Laughton in prior film versions. Crowe has some past musical talent and once led up a rock band, but they should have gone elsewhere to fill this role. Still, in my opinion he modestly passed the test, and didn’t bring the film down with his performance.

    Emotional manipulation and the matter of profundity in the material? On the latter point I refer to Victor Hugo’s sprawling literary masterpiece, which is my own favorite novel of all time. I first read it right after I saw the Broadway show in 1988, and read it a second time several years later. The strain to capture that “philosophical profundity’ you speak of is nothing more than transcribing the written word onto stage and film. The metamorphosis and spiritual enlightment – exposes on politics, society and religion -are all woven in here to powerful individual and cumulative effect. Upton Sinclair says it best here:

    So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.

    One gets goose bumps reading that Sinclair excerpt! So Maurizio, when you make claim that the film “does often teether on a kind of overbearingly ugly attempt at profundity that it does not posess” I must strongly disagree. The film -and the stage musical before it- do possess the philosophical (spiritual if you will) moorings of the novel, and a number of other elements that Sinclair points to, and this is what always made the stage play so transcendent, and brough thematic clarity and deep emotional resonance to this emotionally overwhelming story.

    As far as “emotional manipulation” I’ll argue vehemently that this is part of the entire musical equation from the time the genre launched hundreds of years ago. If Les Miserables the stage play and film are “emotionally manipulative” well then we must conclude that operatic figures like Puccini, Donizetti, Rossini and Bizet played by the same rules. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The entire scope of the musical theatre embraces this type of deliberate emotional immersion, many times with wreckless abandon. It is why (in the case of Les Miserables the stage musical and film) have had some lasting and profound effect on audiences, many who understand the power of music in conveying the pathos and transformative nature of the original material. I’d subsequently argue that Schonberg and Boublil kew that melodic and soaring operatic lyricism would best convey the incomparable greatness and life-changing nature of Hugo’s work.

    Again, I am thrilled to read this remarkable, unexpected response my friend!

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “Bill, be rest assured that if Hathaway wins, it will be because of a rightful perception that she SANG brilliantly, not because she starved herself.”

    This is where I have a big problem. Hathaway should win if she ACTED well enough. Who gives a shit whether she sang well or not? That should not be a factor. Oscars are not a singing contest. They are out there as well, but at the Oscars it’s all about acting in this particular category.

    Starving, cutting hair and all those are not acting either. They are merely tools to help you act. Like make-up and costumes. This goes to DDL and everybody else. Of course playing radically with your natural body weight may not be the wisest decision (f.ex Christian Bale has done that plenty), but that is what actors do, and no-one is forcing them to do so (ofc, you may lose the part).

  • Tero you are clueless.

    She did ACT brilliantly within the parameters of her musical role. You apparently have no grasp on how singing and acting in a musical role go side by side.

    No problem though. Even the critics who hate the film are praising her ACTING and SINGING.

    Her ACTING and emotional immersion into “I Dreamed A Dream” is what made the number especially great. Her kinetic energy was passionate application were missing the moment she made her early exit.

    She’ll make without your endorsement.

  • Linc4Jess

    I suppose if you are a big fan of the musical stage play “Les Miserables” you will love the film and will or can come up with all reason why you feel it is great. If your aren’t a fan chance are, as critic state, you will just be overwhelmed by the bloated film. For me, although I enjoyed the film mostly because of the music there is no romance to speak off as there is no chemistry between the actors and because the romance in the film is mostly implied and not acted out. Samantha Barks is the only artist who presents any king of romantic moments in the film. Overall, the film is nothing more than a string of well executed and performed musical numbers tied together with a few bloody action sequences thrown in with actors singing their hearts out as they die as canon fire blows them up into pieces if for no other reason than to keep those that aren’t a fan from becoming totally bored. But this is just me.

  • ***bloated***

    Yes this is a big word among the nay-sayers.

    Mine is ***sublime***

    Nedding to defend Anne Hathaway’s ACTING and SINGING is comparable to my coming here to say Shakespeare wrote great plays or Leonard da Vinci produced some great paintings.

    I wish the chronic contrarians would take on something that is remotely believable. The Hathaway argument is not. It ius laughable.

    The bad reviews even have praised Hathaway.

    I am not criticizing you “Linc4Jess” just the temper and “substance” of the contrarians.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Dude. I definitely see emotion in singing and that part can be acting. When you sing you bring something from yourself to the table, and if you fake that something as being the character’s something, then THAT is acting. I can’t explain it, and I don’t have the time, plus I don’t care. But singing itself is not acting, that’s a whole another talent. From the clip I saw of Hathaway, it looked like acting, not singing. That was my point.

    I can show you a performance or two where someone sings really great, but is not acting. So, don’t confuse the two. Broadway fans must agree, there must be great singers who are far from being actors.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Sam, I am not a Les Mis hater. I have not even seen the film. I’m not like Rufus who decided to hate Lincoln months before seeing it, and now hates it even more after reading a book.

    If you want me to hate Les Mis, should I watch a live recording of a show, and then realise that the film is not even close to the stage play? Or should I not watch, because the film is better? I have not read the book (which is a big thing in Europe and I hate myself for not reading it), but I have seen non-musical versions of Hugo’s on film.

  • steve50

    “Needing to defend Anne Hathaway’s ACTING and SINGING is comparable to my coming here to say Shakespeare wrote great plays or Leonard da Vinci produced some great paintings.”

    One step too far.. Hathaway’s performance is to acting and singing what Shakespeare was to writing and Leonardo was to painting? I didn’t think so.

    She was good, but let’s have a bit of a reality check. She did elicit visions of Edvard Munch on occasion and she seemed to be channeling somebody else enough that I wouldn’t have been surprised if both arms suddenly shot upwards and we heard, “What..good..is ..sit-ting..a-lone.. in your room”.

    Not knocking it as she was very effective, but it was not the second coming of supporting performances. She sang one song well.

  • “From the clip I saw of Hathaway, it looked like acting, not singing. That was my point.”

    Tero, this is where we disagree. Hathaway’s sensational work in the film combined the two, and this is a point that just about every theater fan will support. I understand you have not seen the film, and I dare say you yourself may well be acting and singing a different tune at that point.

    There are people who loved the film, there are others who hate it. Most like Jackson, some don’t. Most hate Crowe, some don’t. Most love Redmayne. Some don’t. But you’d be hard pressed to get anything but effusive praise for Hathaway’s ACTING and SINGING both of which are intricately woven into one of the greatest Fantines on record. Period.

    You are fair and a good sport, and I don’t mean to create any negative energy here. I only want to quality the situation with Hathaway who has gloriously survived even the film’s naysayers.

  • Steve, I was using exaggeration here to make a point! I figured that much was obvious. I rather appreciated the Edvard Munch look myself (THE SCREAM is my all-time favorite painting!) and also saw the anguish of JOAN OF ARC there (thematically compatible with Hugo) I was being sarcastic, not putting Hathaway with the Bard or Leo. Whether or not it was the “second coming of supporting performances” or not is a matter of opinion. I believe it was one of the best in the category in quite some time. This was incredibly immersion into character.

    She did more than sing one sone though, and was quite excellent in musical sequences both before and after the big number. When she left the film lost for sure, even with Redmayne and Barks picking up nicely.

  • Mattoc

    ^ Sam, I think Tero is essentially saying the same thing as you, but lost in translation.

  • If this is so Mattoc, and I don’t doubt it is, well then we are pretty much in agreement. Fair enough.

  • Ruth

    I would like to see a 2nd nomination for Hooper. His close-up approach worked for me, and his faith in his actors is admirable.

  • Ruth, I must say I completely agree with you. It worked for me as well. And his track record for getting some excellent performances from his actors should count for something, even from his detractors.

  • Mattoc

    Worked for me too. And I was in the front row of a theatre where they generally don’t sell the front row.
    The actors really had nowhere to hide. Stand and deliver or look like a fool.
    It’s a fine line, but it succeeded in my opinion.

  • Reno

    Moviewatcher is right, this article is “a case against Les Miz” and not “a case for!”

    Sasha though is still holding back. I could just imagine the waves of vitriol once Les Miz reaps 10+ Oscar noms.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Tero “Lost in Translation” Heikkinen. I love it. Call me Ishmael.

  • brendon

    Everyone here can agree though that Tom Hooper’s a fucking terrible hack director, right?

  • No we cannot agree. Hooper has an obvious talent with actors, having culled some excellent performance in the current film and the one before.

    I always get a laugh when I read these kind of comments from people who have never directed a scene in their lives.

  • Glenn UK

    @Brendon – I prefer the views of fellow directors as opposed to members of this site. Hooper won the DGA and Oscar – big recognition by his PEERS that he is indeed a good director. And very differing bodies too but the end result was the same!

  • SeattleMoviegoer

    for those who so willingly jump on the HATE HOOPER bandwagon (which seems so bizarre), please walk away from your computers for a while and check out DVD’s of ELIZABETH I with Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons (9 Emmys for the miniseries, Mirren, Iron and Hooper) and JOHN ADAMS (a record 13 Emmys for a miniseries including Hooper, Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson).

  • So I finally saw it…

    LES MISERABLES is a crime against humanity. It is racist against those of us who love beautiful voices. I am deeply offended. I’m looking into suing for emotional damage. People in my theater clapped at the end and it crossed my mind to wait for them in the parking lot and fight them one by one but it had started snowing and I didn’t have the proper shoes.

    I quite honestly left the theater livid. It will probably win Best Picture. The reason I know this is because I am a huge fan of movie musicals. I pretty much love all of the ones I’ve seen, and they are many, except for one. That one was CHICAGO. Now there is a blasphemy more wretched than CHICAGO. It’s name is LES MIZ. I will do everything in my power to smite it.

  • Sasha Stone

    It will probably win Best Picture.

    It won’t.

  • Mattoc

    Antoinette, when you hate something THAT MUCH it usually means you love it or eventually will.
    That means I secretly love The Iron Lady…oh shit.

  • “LES MISERABLES is a crime against humanity. It is racist against those of us who love beautiful voices. I am deeply offended. I’m looking into suing for emotional damage. People in my theater clapped at the end and it crossed my mind to wait for them in the parking lot and fight them one by one but it had started snowing and I didn’t have the proper shoes.

    I quite honestly left the theater livid. It will probably win Best Picture. The reason I know this is because I am a huge fan of movie musicals. I pretty much love all of the ones I’ve seen, and they are many, except for one. That one was CHICAGO. Now there is a blasphemy more wretched than CHICAGO. It’s name is LES MIZ. I will do everything in my power to smite it.”

    You know what, I was going to say something here but why bother? This person is…………………ah well……….better left unsaid. Send me your address and I’ll get you a refund. I wouldn’t want you to so angry that you would do anything rash.

  • genaj31

    If Les Miz continues to do well at the box office, it will be a Best Picture contender. Hollywood loves a winner. As for a nominee, ten films are nominmated. Is there seriously any chance Les Miz will not be among those ten?

  • Gena—

    There is 0% chance. It is there for certain even if there are only five (5) nominees. That much is admitted even at the higher etchelons of this site, where love for the film is quite compromised.

    It is in the final five, but the issues remains whether it could be the final winner in an upset. It may not be likely to be sure, but it’s still possible, especially if Hooper gets named among the five directors. Don’t place any bets, but if your a fan keep the faith.

  • Bud

    I am not sure if the Crash win is a good model for a possible Les Mis win. Crash has something much stronger going for it when it won a few years ago. That was the subject matter of the assumed winner that year Brokeback Mountain. Not that I didn’t like Crash. I did. But there was certainly a growing feeling that started to appear in the final weeks that year that Crash was an easy way out of awarding a film about gay cowboys and thus avoiding the anticipated attacks from the likes of Fox News and other outrage outlets.

  • Reno

    Just saw it. Awesome! This and Lincoln are my 2 best for this year. I’ve never seen the stage version nor have I read the book (in high school we were required to write a book report, I didn’t read the book but I submitted a paper anyway and then got an A) but I’m very familiar with the story and the songs, thanks to several dramatic film versions and YouTube. The uninitiated, however, will not like this film at all as huge efforts were made to truncate the narrative. My favorite moment of the film — the obvious one — Anne Hathaway singing I Dreamed a Dream. The big flaw — Russell Crowe and his nasal singing. Hugh Jackaman, Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne were brilliant. Great prospects for Oscar wins in technical crafts categories.

  • Glenn UK

    What I can’t understand is if Les Miz is not the major Oscar contender that it was once thought it would be ….. why are there more posts about this one film than any other. Why is there so much hatred spewed on these pages. If its not a contender then why bother? If it’s not going to win why continue spewing? Why waste your energy? Why not write beautiful sentences about the film you want to win or think will win?

    Answer = because Les Miz is still a top three contender and it could go any way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Parker

    It is racist against those of us who love beautiful voices.

    Somebody put that on a poster!

  • brendon

    Great tunes.

    Too bad about the directing and about half the performances (Crowe, Seyfried, HBC, SBC).

    There’s one moment I had hope — “On My Own” starts with a well-composed wide shot of Samantha Barks on the street. Finally, a moment to breathe! A moment to give the audience some space to take in a character in their environment. Maybe this ballad won’t be shot like every other ballad in the film!

    Cut to: intense close-up on a wide-angle lens. Which we hold on for the rest of the song. Oh, well.

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