Sadly, despite early buzzing, “Les Misérables” lost its chance of winning Best Picture when it failed to garner both a directing nomination for Tom Hooper and an Adapted Screenplay nomination, both of which are almost a prerequisite for winning the ultimate prize for Best Picture. Since “Les Misérables” failed to reel those nominations in, it will have to settle for smaller victories. Some awards it does have a chance of winning are Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, while Anne Hathaway is a shoe-in for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. On the other hand, Hugh Jackman deserves a win but will have no chance against Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Best Song should be going to Adele instead of the one song that was added for eligibility. Some previous nominations for these producers include “Elizabeth” (1998), “Atonement” (2007), and “Frost/Nixon” (2008).
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Nominated Role: Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a former prisoner whose attempt to build a new life for himself is threatened by the relentless pursuit of a police inspector.
Were this any other year in which Daniel Day-Lewis wasn’t the physical embodiment of Abraham Lincoln, Hugh Jackman would be the number one contender in this Best Actor race. His performance carries the film from start to finish and he’s the only player in the film that can keep the spoken word hymns interesting. His back story shines through his eyes and this is the best performance of his career, thus far, having never been nominated for an Academy Award before. But there’s a large shadow cast this year by the man in the top hat and it will prove almost impossible for anyone to beat him.
Every year there’s always at least a few Oscar categories that are locked from the get go, proving that the people involved in the particular category were acres above the rest with a truly exceptional and stand-out performance or film work. Last year, for example, Christopher Plummer was a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor and won the award on Oscar night. Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln is a lock this year. No matter how great the performances were from the rest of the males, no one can top the reincarnation produced by the two time winner.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Nominated Role: As Fantine, Anne Hathaway plays a young mother who loses her job in a factory and struggles to find money to support her daughter.
For Naomi Watts’ performance, I stated she didn’t have much of a chance of winning because her character was laying in a hospital bed for most of the film. Well, Anne Hathaway faces a similar character development, as [spoiler alert] her character dies extremely early in the film. The difference is, Hathaway is the odds-on favorite to take home the Best Supporting Actress award. She does steal the show, with the most devotion to her character, in giving up her long, gorgeous hair for the role. Also, with the decision to record the actors singing on set during principle shooting, the ability to convey while actually acting (compared to recording the songs later) is shown best through her performance, especially of her final song “I Dreamed A Dream”, in which she is heavily crying and singing beautifully at the same time. Despite her disappearance from the film, she resonates on your mind throughout the rest of the film, and the same cannot be said for Naomi Watts’ performance in “The Impossible”.
Unless the Academy feels the Sally Field is due or that Amy Adams’ performance in “The Master” was somehow superior, I will definitely be placing my strong gut feeling bet on Anne Hathaway and her captivating performance in “Les Misérables”. This is her second Academy Award nomination, having been nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role in 2008 for “Rachel Getting Married”.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
If you ask me, Best Costume Design is one of the hardest categories to pick this year. With two fantasy films showing huge potential in “Mirror Mirror” and “Snow White and the Huntsman”, and three period pieces bringing up the rest of the nominations, “Lincoln” having the most nominations of any film could be considered the favorite, but with “Les Misérables” needing some wins, this could easily be afforded for that. Paco Delgado has never been nominated, but if he’s going to win, this would be the perfect film to win it for.
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
With not much competition, I could easily see “Les Misérables” taking this category. “Hitchcock” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” also deserve this award, but with the popularity of “Les Misérables” and the lack of nominations it received this year, I see it winning in several categories like this and Best Costume Design just to level the playing field, as Tom Hooper was snubbed, as was the screenplay.
Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell were great at dirtying up the actors, as most of them spend time as slaves or homeless on the street. The filth is ever present. Also, many of the actresses have many different hairstyles throughout the film, especially when Anne Hathaway cuts her hair. But will this compare to the thousands of characters in “The Hobbit” that were put into makeup? Or the makeup used to turn Anthony Hopkins into the Master of Suspense? We shall see. While this is Julie Dartnell first Academy Award nomination, Lisa Westcott has been nominated twice before for Best Makeup with “Mrs. Brown” (1997) and “Shakespeare In Love” (1998).
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
The problem “Les Misérables” faces in this category is that it’s an adaptation of not only a stage play, but other films as well, making most of the songs not original to Tom Hooper’s version, therefore making them ineligible for this category. The songs they did add, including “Suddenly”, performed by Hugh Jackman in a stagecoach, were not nearly as good and have no comparison to the quality of the original songs like “I Dreamed A Dream”. With the Academy hopefully favoring Adele and her James Bond theme, we can only hope this runt of the musical litter doesn’t win the Best Original Song award.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Production Design will be a barn burner this year, with every single nominee deserving of the award. Focusing on “Les Misérables” in particular, a good portion of France is depicted, thus approaching the task of returning France to the 19th century, with giant slave ship sets, several close quarters on cobble streets sets, and with the constantly shifting character focus in different stages of their lives, each different stage brings a different set. What “Les Misérables” has working against it is its stage play roots, which keeps the characters in those ever-changing sets for longer periods of time, more so than say a film like “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. Also, it will be interesting to see how it does again similar stage play “Anna Karenina” as well as fellow period piece “Lincoln”. One of the production designers for “Les Misérables” has been nominated for the same award twice before for “Topsy-Turvy” (1999) and “The King’s Speech” (2010), but were she to win this year, it would mark her first victory.
BEST SOUND MIXING
The choice to actually record the actors singing in principle photography was a bold choice, one of which I can only assume came from the director, Tom Hooper. And although it doesn’t always work the best, in mixing the actor’s singing back to the composed music, the Sound Mixing is a pivotal portion of the film. In comparison, “Skyfall” as an action film probably has more elements to mix and mix correctly, but with the medium of the musical that simply begs for correct Sound Mixing, “Les Misérables” could easily nab this one.
For what it’s worth, Andy Nelson is nominated both for “Les Misérables” and “Lincoln”, making this his eighteen nomination, having won only once for “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). Here’s a list of his prior nominations: Gorillas In The Mist (1988), Schindler’s List (1993), Braveheart (1995), Evita (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Insider (1999), Moulin Rouge (2001), Seabiscuit (2003), The Last Samurai (2003), War Of The Worlds (2005), Blood Diamond (2006), Star Trek (2009), Avatar (2009), & War Horse (2011)
Several factors make “Les Misérables” the success film that it is. Tom Hooper’s willingness to bring the frame of the camera in closer to the actors is always appreciated. His slightly cocked camera positions are highlighted in “The King’s Speech” and continue on into this latest Hooper adaptation. Also, the decision to record the singing performances on the set instead of re-recording afterwards is a bold choice and often allows for much more appreciate of the actors abilities and the ability of the mixers and composers to match these aspects after the fact. The performances from the leads are astounding. Anne Hathaway delivers a breathtaking performance, revealing a devotion to the role in losing her hair for it, and baffling with the ability to sing some of the strongest melodies while sobbing, what seems like almost an impossible feat. Hugh Jackman carries himself superbly, never drawing too much attention to himself, but never quite losing our focus. Russell Crowe surprises, despite the negative press around his singing and performance, and actually becomes one of the most enjoyable parts of the film for me. Sacha Baron Cohen continues to impress with his ability to “turn it on”. As much as he appears as a bumbling idiot outside of films like this and “Hugo”, he really has a knack for certain roles, including these, to which he will one day be recognized for. Where the epic drama loses me is in the constant singing, even with spoken words that are song. It, at one point, becomes quite laughable and, upon multiple viewings, has the possibility of losing my attention completely. Many of the songs are quite memorable, including Anne Hathaway’s last number, Cohen and Carter’s soiree, and the multiple revolution songs, my favorite being the one of the young boy as he makes his way through the town. Overall, “Les Misérables” is a film to behold, a film that sets itself apart from all the other films released in 2012, and for that, it deserves a standing ovation.
// Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, & Cameron Mackintosh // Directed by Tom Hooper // Lead Actor: Hugh Jackman // Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway // Costume Design: Paco Delgado // Makeup: Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell // Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil // Production Design: Eve Stewart // Set Decorator: Anna Lynch-Robinson // Sound Mixing: Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes //
// Dated Viewed: Monday, January 21st, 2013 // AMC CITY WALK // 22 films – 35 days //