Savor The Moment

As anyone might have predicted, the Gold Derby-ites (a.k.a., the Goldies) have tumbled for Les Miserables, pushing it ahead of Argo and Silver Linings to lead the Best Picture Oscar race. I had Les Miz at the top back in mid-October but Pete Hammond and Peter Travers, among others, have now ditched Argo for Tom Hooper‘s period operetta. Argo is now the proverbial ex-girlfriend — hurt, abandoned.

A friend’s wife has said that Les Miz ranks at the top of her personal weep-o-meter, and that’s often the name of the game when it comes to calibrating Best Picture winners. And then this HuffPost rave by longtime producer Jay Weston…it’s obvious what’s happening. It’s probably a lock to win.

But there’s a small cabal of Les Miz dissers out there, and I’ve just spoken to one. He’s a seasoned producer who tends toward generosity and has been around the block and loved, incidentally, Alan Parker‘s Evita — the last mainstream Hollywood translation of a musical and the last to deliver, in Hooper’s words, a musical in “through-sung” form.

“I don’t care what people are saying — this is an almost objectively dreadful movie,” the producer told me a few minutes ago. “And I know there’s a major effort underway but I don’t think it has a chance of winning the Best Picture Oscar. Anne Hathaway is fucking terrific and guaranteed to win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but the early screenings have been stacked with fans of the stage musical version and it was a little embarassing at times, I thought, when somebody would start applauding after a song and nobody would join in.

“On stage Les Miserables seemed large because you’re using your imagination, but the film feels very small in a way,” he continuted. “Perhaps the biggest problem is the singing is apart from Hathaway…Hugh Jackman is mezzo mezzo and Russell Crowe is awful…he looks the part but it just doesn’t fly. And the early CG looks like a cartoon.”

An assessment of the here-and-now by TheWrap‘s Steve Pond contains elements of what I’m describing and reporting.

  • GeorgePrager

    According to Netflix, the last person to watch CHICAGO using its website, was 49 year-old Ivy Appleblatt of Evanston, Illinois. Watching it with her was her “best friend”; 35 year-old unemployed flight attendant Dean Koonce. They shared a pizza from Papa Johns and a six-pack of wine coolers. This took place back in August of 2009 during a heatwave.

  • Luke Y. Thompson

    Wasn’t SWEENEY TODD a “sing-through” musical, for the most part? Some spoken dialogue, but very little. And there is some in Les Miz too, just not much.

  • Mr. F.

    “It’s probably a lock to win.” Probably a lock?! You sound like Brian Fantana: “60% of the time, it works every time.”

    A “lock” is definitely happening — nothing probable about it. Own it, Wells. Own it!

  • Krillian

    The stage play has one spoken line but you can tell from the trailer that more will be spoken.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Prager: Funny and with a point.

  • JoeBomowski

    Isn’t LES MIS like CATS or PHANTOM?

    Also, who asked for Eddie Redmayne?

  • Lucky Ghost

    I wouldn’t say it’s dreadful, in fact the first forty minutes really soar, but after Hathaway exits the picture it falls off a cliff.

    Jackman’s vox are unimpeachable. He’s great.

    Crowe does look the part but his songs do not work. No real vocal control, nasally scoops up to notes, belted big notes that just sort of hang there without vibrato, and the acting shuts down as soon as the singing starts.

    Redmayne’s actually got an outstandingly lovely voice, but that thousand yard stare of his communicates very little, like the eyes of a video game character. Watching him and Seyfried court one another has all the thrill of a mayonnaise sandwich on white.

    You could feel that first Avery Fisher audience dying to put on some over the top show of love for it, particularly with Hooper, Hathaway, Redmayne, Seyfried & Barks present. My discomfort with and resistance to that may be coloring my impressions, but I can’t imagine others not noticing how the dynamism of performance and film-making wanes after Anne’s big number, which by the way deserves every award anyone cares to throw her way.

    Crowe was a big, big problem for me.

  • Joe Gillis

    Wow! Jeff Wells trying to destroy a movie before he sees it? I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on here!

  • trimmer

    The systematic takedown of all that isn’t Silver Linings Playbook or Zero Dark Thirty continues…

  • Terry McCarty

    BREAKING NEWS: David Poland doesn’t like LES MISERABLES. Tune in to his Twitter account for further details.

  • MarkVH

    Yeah, Poland panned it on Twitter. Really interesting. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed (was hoping for a good adaptation) or refreshed that somebody isn’t drinking the Kool-aid.

    My prediction is that Wells doesn’t hate it, but doesn’t love it. Goes for the emotional kick but recognizes the faults in the filmmaking.