Director Tom Hooper deploys the same style he used in The King's Speech for this much darker story about the first man to undergo gender-reassignment surgery. It's an odd mix of rather too-pretty visuals with an edgy series of events that perhaps demands a lot more raw honesty. But the story is fascinating, and the cast is excellent, delivering astute, introspective performances that reveal the much earthier narrative under the lovely surface.
It opens in 1926 Copenhagen, where husband and wife painters Einar and Gerda Wegener (Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander) are hoping to start a family as they develop their careers. One day, Gerda talks Einar into putting on a dress to pose for one of her paintings, and the experience triggers long-suppressed yearnings from his childhood. Gerda and their friend Ulla (Amber Heard) encourage him to attend a party in drag, and Lili Elbe is born, Einar's female alter ego who immediately attracts the attention of a lovelorn man (Ben Whishaw). After they move to Paris, they find another friend in Gerda's agent Hans (Matthias Schoenaerts), who was Einar's childhood pal. But while the French doctors think Einar is simply crazy, Gerda sticks by him as he decides to undergo a radical experimental surgery offered by a doctor (Sebastian Koch) in Germany.
Hooper's usual directorial flourishes include off-centre compositions, painterly sets and emotive close-ups, which bring out the internal struggles of the characters in beautiful ways. But this also has a tendency to simplify a story that is seriously complex. By emphasising the social conflicts and relational melodrama, the entire movie begins to feel rather thin, never quite grappling with the more provocative or disturbing aspects of the issues at hand. There are hints of what might have given the film an edgier kick, such as a moment of Hitchcockian obsession or the shifting of power between the male and female characters.
Continue reading: The Danish Girl Review
Film awards outcomes are difficult to predict. Year on year the judging panel changes and the tastes of both the public and the film critique elite evolve. Sometimes winners will be a curve ball, and sometimes movies that seem to be a dead cert get completely ignored from nominations.
This year, The Master had been tipped to be a firm favourite among critics, but has been largely ignored by many awards. In contrast, the underdog movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, starring two completely novice actors and the feature film directorial debut from Benh Zeitlin, has snapped up three nods from the Oscars. The BAFTAS doesn't quite have the same notoriety for its unpredictable nominations or winners, but for this year's Best Film Award, with 5 unusually strong contenders, the floor is still entirely open.
This year's nominations are; Ben Affleck's Argo, Tom Hooper's all star Les Miserables, Ang Lee's stunning adaptation of Life of Pi, American historical drama Lincoln from Steven Spielberg, and Kathryn Bigelow's controversial search for Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty.
As the results pour in for the movie takings over the festive period, it looks as though three movies have truly surpassed themselves. The Hobbit took $32m over the weekend, bringing its world wide gross to over $600m. Les Miserables' Christmas day release saw it beating the rest for three days, and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained looks to be the director's biggest film yet, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Friday saw The Hobbit smash through $600 million total worldwide gross sales which makes it bigger than The Fellowship of the Ring, the first movie of the LOTR trilogy, a number which bodes well for the the second two movies of Peter Jackson's latest JRR Tolkien trilogy.
Django Unchained also did incredibly well over the weekend with north American sales of over $30m, doubling it's week takings to gross at $64m. Either due to, or despite, the controversial race debate surrounding the film, Tarantino's latest brave foray with a strong political back bone is set to be his biggest yet, surpassing the sales of 2009's Inglourious Basterds. Regardless of the controversy surrounding it, reviews of performances, cinematography and directing have all been glowing it's currently holding an 89% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
With awards seasons fast approaching it seems almost certain now that Tom Hooper’s adaptation of Les Miserables will nab several Oscar nominations, if not a couple of the coveted awards.
Best Picture maybe? Is it too early to speculate? Not at all, with Les Miz already having received several Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. According to the LA Times, the picture has been making quite the rounds, having been screened numerous times for guild and academy members alike and generating positive reviews every time. It might be an easy win, with a classic Broadway favorite like this – the songs and the storyline were already there to be readily exploited.
The challenge with this one, however, was to adapt it to the tastes of a modern audience, one not quite used to having their film interrupted by show tunes every five minutes. To his credit, Tom Hooper has certainly succeeded in doing this, which is no doubt due, at least in part, to the star-studded cast featuring A-list names such as Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Hugh Jackman. Fans of Jackman will already know that the actor has quite a few Broadway productions under his belt, which makes him the perfect choice for the adaptation. Despite generally unfavorable reviews from critics, it looks like Jackman’s Best Actor nomination is all but secure, as is Hooper’s Best Director. As for winning, that will probably come down to the wire, with several big hits of the year competing in each of the categories.
Les Miserables may well score a plethora of Oscars at the Academy Awards in February, though it won't be on the back of critical acclaim. Sure, the movie has received its fair share of strong reviews, though a fairly average 71% on Rotten Tomatoes is enough to suggest that not everyone thinks the big budget project starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe has worked.
Richard Corliss of TIME Magazine was the most biting in his criticism, though directed most of his venom towards director Tom Hooper, who scooped the Oscar of Best Director for The King's Speech a couple of years ago. "Tom Hooper's problem is soiling good projects with bad direction. Even if his Les Misérables wins as many Oscars as The King's Speech did, it's a habit he really needs to correct," he wrote. Ouch. Catherine Shoard of The Guardian seemingly had a terrible experience sitting through the musical-drama, "By the end, you feel like a piñata on the dancefloor: empty, in bits, the victim of prolonged assault by killer pipes," she said. The Village Voice's Scott Foundas had sympathy with the British director, suggesting, "The moist-eyed storybook romanticism of the source material proves resilient to [Hooper's] efforts."
Despite the mixed reviews, Les Miserables has emerged as the second favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture, though Steven Spielberg's Lincoln is expected to take that honor come 2013.
Continue reading: Has Tom Hooper Soiled 'Les Miserables' With Bad Direction?
The all-star cast for 'Les Miserables' arrive on the red carpet at the New York premiere. Among them were Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman with his actress wife Deborra-lee Furness, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Sacha Baron Cohen, George Blagden, Samantha Barks and newcomers Isabelle Allen and Daniel Huttlestone.
When Tom Hooper started casting for the film adaptation of Les Miserables, he didn’t exactly have to go searching hard for people who might be interested in appearing in the movie – in fact he barely had to go searching at all.
Hugh Jackman and Eddie Redmayne freely admitted to The Los Angeles Times that they weren’t shy in wanting to get involved with the script, whilst they said that many of Hollywood’s A-list were equally keen to get involved. However, the pair adopted slightly different ways of turning Hooper’s head, as they explained at The Envelope Screening Series for the film. Jackman revealed that he went as far as stalking Hooper for a bit, whilst Redmayne sent in his audition via iPhone.
Hooper was also at the discussion with the pair, and he pointed out that it took three hours of auditioning with Jackman to convince him to get rid of much of the script’s dialogue and focus on a full-blown musical affair: "The key to this is hiring actors who have such a facility, such a confidence expressing themselves through song," that audiences accept the altered reality being created, the director commented. Les Miserables is largely expected to feature in the Oscar nominations after a strong critical showing thus far. It’s released to the general public on Christmas Day.
Les Miserables has become the favourite to win Best Picture at the Oscars after being nominated for four prizes at the Golden Globes - a key barometer for the Academy Awards. Lead stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway received acting nods, Claude-Michel Schonberg and Alain Boublil are shortlisted for their song 'Suddenly', while the movie itself is shortlisted for Best Motion Picture (Comedy and Musical).
Largely shot at Pinewood studios, Tom Hooper's Les Miserables cost around £38 million and featured the actors singing every song live on set. Speaking to the BBC after the Golden Globe nominations were announced, The Kings Speech director said, "I'm just pleased for the whole team who made Les Miserables. Making a musical is an intensively collaborative type of film-making, because it requires such an army of people. An army who aren't there on a conventional movie. The singing teachers who helped the cast, through to the onset pianists who played in the live duets with the singers." Though musicals and comedies are often ignored by the Academy, Les Miserables has been installed as the 9/4 favourite to snatch the Best Picture Oscar away from the hands of Ben Affleck and Steven Spielberg in February. Hugh Jackman is now the third favourite to win Best Actor, though it would a huge shock should Daniel Day-Lewis not win the award for his turn as Abraham Lincoln. Anne Hathaway is favoured for an Oscar nomination, though the bookmakers still firmly believe Jennifer Lawrence will win Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook.
Les Miserables hits theaters in the U.S on Christmas Day, with a UK release following on January 11, 2013.
Les Miserables was always going to be a tricky film to handle. Adored by so many in its musical format, to translate it to the screen represented a huge task for director Tom Hooper. But, given the fantastic critical response, and with three Golden Globe nominations under its belt, it looks as if he pulled it off.
"I'm just pleased for the whole team who made Les Miserables," said Hooper on the phone to the BBC, all the way from Los Angeles. "Making a musical is an intensively collaborative type of film-making, because it requires such an army of people. An army who aren't there on a conventional movie. The singing teachers who helped the cast, though to the on set pianists who played in the live duets with the singers."
Given the all-star cast in Les Mis, there were always going to be some disappointing phone calls today - the day the nominations were announced. One smiling face, though, would have been that of Hugh Jackman, who plays Jean Valjean. "I'm so proud. Hugh Jackman carries this film, from the start to the end, on his shoulders - at times like Jean Valjean, the hero he plays," explained Hooper.
Continue reading: Tom Hooper On Les Miserables Golden Globe Nominations: "I'm So Proud"
Props to the main stars of Les Miserables, they're putting in the effort on the film's run of premieres. Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and the rest of the cast were all out in force again at the New York City premiere of the novel adaptation less than a week after they'd ran the red carpet gamut in London. What a difference a continent makes, though; whilst across in the UK Hathaway and the rest of the female cast dressed prettily but conservatively, at the Ziegfield Theatre they held nothing back, both Hathaway and Seyfried causing jaws to drop with their outfits.
Awards season kicked off in earnest this week with two major critical bodies - New York Critics and the National Board of Review - both naming the Osama bin Laden raid thriller Zero Dark Thirty as their film of the year. Jessica Chastain stars in the movie, which reunites director Kathryn Bigelow with The Hurt Locker writer Mark Boal. The new trailer promises another exciting, intense military action drama.
Another major awards contender is Tom Hooper's film of the epic musical Les Miserables, with a high-powered cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne and Amanda Seyfried. All of them attended the glitzy red carpet world premiere in London this week. The film opens in America on Christmas Day, and in Britain in early January.
Given that all it needed was for the bulk of the cast to turn up to make it a truly star-studded premiere, it was no surprise that the London opening of the Tom Hooper directed Les Miserables had a turn out that could be match by almost no other. With the likes of Gillian Anderson, Ellie Goulding, Steven Fry and Idris Elba looking on, the center stage was undoubtedly taken by stars of the movie Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham Carter.
Anne Hathaway and her fellow cast members in Les Miserables were forced to sing live, MTV News have reported. They spoke to the movie’s director, Tom Hooper, who explained that it was of the utmost importance to have the actors singing live, to make the performances believable. The cast agreed, so Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman all had to put their vocal talents on display if they wanted to be part of the film.
“The whole sense that the character is producing the song, rather than the character is following a song, completely changes the medium of the music,” Hooper told MTV. “It's amazing how much more visceral and how much more real it is. I, for one, find lip-syncing; it's always made me find it fake. Even the great musicals, I have to kind of forgive them for miming. It's a real step forward in the form, which we are all really excited to be involved in.” Hathaway reportedly spent four months with a vocal coach before joining the rest of the coach for the nine-week filming schedule and it looks as though her hard work paid off.
The movie version of Les Miserables premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center. The Hollywood Reporter say that although Anne Hathaway’s performance as Fantine is a brief one, she makes an “indelible impression” and already, mutterings of potential Oscar nominations have begun to surface.
David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook - a stunning dark comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper - appears to have hijacked the Oscars race. Russell was tipped for a golden statuette with The Fighter, though missed out on the directing prize to Tom Hooper (The Kings Speech). His latest movie has certainly thrown a spanner into the works for the greatest film prize of them all, so we've compiled an Oscars cheat sheet for Best Picture in 2013. So read on, before cleverly dropping the information into conversations with your friends.
Who's the frontrunner?
There's still a handful of likely Oscar contenders to be released, though the eight or ten movies most strongly tipped to get nominated for Best Picture are now in place. The list is headed by two movies: Ben Affleck's thriller Argo and Steven Spielberg's historical drama Lincoln. The bookmakers cannot choose between the two, but most give the former's movie the edge as recent history suggests this type of film is likely to please the younger looking Academy. The Hurt Locker famously usurped Avatar in 2009, and Affleck's slick movie has much in common with Kathryn Bigelow's classic Iraq War film. As mentioned, both films are pretty much neck-and-neck in the betting, though Argo is generally available at 3/1 while Spielberg's epic is around 4/1.
It’s been a long time since a movie musical challenged for an Oscar, yet with the predictions and rumors starting to fly round there are suggestions that one could be in the reckoning to take the main Academy Award for the first time since Chicago triumphed way back in 2002.
In fairness, if Les Miserables was decent it was always going to have a chance; the book was considered one of the finest novels of the 19th century, whilst the musical was one of the most high profile of the last century. Switching it to film though obviously had a huge pressure, and people finally got a chance to see how British filmmaker Tom Hooper had handled that as his film of Les Miserables screened for the first time last Friday (November 23), according to The Hollywood Reporter.
No one at the screening, which took place at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, was allowed to give their review of the film. What can be revealed is that Hooper himself was there and addressed the crowd. "I'm grateful that I finished it [the film]... “ he said in a speech, adding “I'm grateful to the thousands of people who have been on this journey, particularly the wonderful cast... and I'm grateful to Victor Hugo (who wrote the novel upon which the Broadway play upon which the film is derived), who unfortunately can't be with us." Starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Helena Bonham Carter among others, the cast certainly has the chops for the Awards season, only time will tell whether the film matches up to the profile.
Looks like Universal Pictures mean business. The studio has pushed the release of ‘Les Miserables’ from December 14, to December 25. Interestingly, the decision was made after Universal got the final cut from director Tom Hooper and felt it was more appropriate for a Christmas Day release.
Ang Lee’s hugely anticipated ‘Life of Pi’ – an adaptation of Yann Martel’s classic novel – and Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ recently moved off the Christmas Day release date, though ‘Les Mis’ still has high profile challengers. The Russell Crowe starring movie, based on the long-running musical which itself is based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, will go up against Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’. The drama-western follows a slave-turned-bounty hunter played by Jamie Foxx who sets out to rescue his wife from Leonardo Dicaprio’s brutal Mississippi plantation owner Calvin Candie. It will certainly be interesting to discover who comes out on top on Christmas Day, with both movies expected to be in the running for the major prizes at the Golden Globes and Oscars.
Continue reading: ‘Les Miserables’ To Battle Tarantino’s Django Unchained On Christmas Day