Editor’s note: This is part of a 32-part series dissecting the 85th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Every day leading up to the Oscars, a new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category of the Oscars. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!
By Clara Matthews of Just Chick Flicks
Oscar loves big Hollywood musicals and Les Miserables fits the bill perfectly. The story has everything… a Tony Award winning score, a self-sacrificing mother, an orphan, escaped convicts, students plotting a rebellion, unrequited love and a despicable innkeeper and his money grubbing wife.
Les Miserables is the all-star movie based on the Tony Award winning Broadway hit musical. The movie is nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor In a Leading Role for Hugh Jackman, Actress in a Supporting Role for Anne Hathaway, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Song) for “Suddenly”, Production Design and Sound Mixing.
Hugh Jackman gives an outstanding performance as the escaped convict, Jean Valjean in this big screen adaption of Victor Hugo’s classic tale of redemption and hope. The movie follows Valjean from his life as a convict to his decision to break his parole and live his life as honest man.
His nemesis, Inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe is fueled by an unrelenting sense of justice and pursues Valjean for more than 15 years. While Crowe’s vocal abilities are clearly not up to the challenge of the score, his intensity conveys the power needed for this role.
Schoenberg and Bublill’s beautiful songs are the backbone of Les Miserables. The movie is almost entirely sung-through, meaning that there is very little spoken dialogue. Oscar winning director, Tom Hooper (The Kings’s Speech) made the radical decision to have the actors sing their parts live, instead of singing along to a prerecorded soundtrack. This allowed them to infuse their performances with a depth of emotion that is clearly seen when Jackman sings “Bring Him Home” and “Who Am I?”.
The All Star Cast of Les Miserables
Anne Hathaway gives a breathtaking performance as Fantine, a down on her luck single mother who turns to prostitution to provide for her daughter. During Hathaway’s heart-wrenching performance of “I Dreamed a Dream“, Hooper keeps her face framed in a tight close-up that forces you to feel the pain of this young woman’s lost hopes and disappointed dreams. Anne Hathaway has won the Golden Globe and a SAG Awards appears to be on track to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Marilyn) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia) play Marius and Cosette, the beautiful young couple in love. Samantha Barks, who was personally picked by Les Mis Executive Producer, Cameron Macintosh to play Eponine is fabulous. Her performance of “On My Own” perfectly conveys her unrequited love for Marius. Redmayne and Barks sing, “A Little Fall of Rain”, one of my favorite songs in the play. Unfortunately, the song was shortened, leaving me feeling emotionally cheated.
Among the cast of interesting characters are the comically wicked Thenardiers, played with relish by Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, who seems to have cornered the market on playing crazy hags. With so much death, dying and sadness, they provide a humorous break in a story.
As an of the Broadway musical, I was glad to see that Tom Hooper respected the original material and made only a few minor changes. But you don’t have to be a fan of musicals or have seen the show on stage to enjoy Les Miserables. You will enjoy the excellent performances, fantastic cinematography and the unforgettable music.