Tom Hooper’s feverishly anticipated adaptation of “Les Miserables” screened for the media, academy and guild members last week at the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in a finished version that Hooper says he turned in at 2am. Thanksgiving Day. If Hooper was bone-tired, the ovations and cheering greeting his film must have provided both a reward and a confirmation that his movie could well be the awards season’s late-arriving 800-pound gorilla.
A sampling of the huzzahs careening through the Twittersphere from the New York crowd: “[Anne] Hathaway wins. GOD. I wept. Film’s a triumph. They’re on their feet here. NYC crowd ate...it...up,” tweeted Kris Tapley on HitFix, a sentiment echoed by Fandango’s Dave Karger. “Anne Hathaway could easily win supporting actress,” Karger tweeted on the chances of the actress playing the film’s desperate mother, Fantine. “Her ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is the showstopper.” Karger also loved Hugh Jackman as the virtuous Jean Valjean, saying he “has a great shot to bump out Denzel [Washington] or Joaquin [Phoenix] in the Best Actor race. His singing is quite impressive.” Karger was more circumpsect on Russell Crowe, who plays the dogged Inspector Javert: “Russell Crowe will be polarizing. I liked him but some people won’t like his voice.” Which could be a problem because, as Tapley notes, the film is completely sung, with the exception of “a spoken word or phrase there.” Granted, the reaction mirrored the rapturuous tweets that greeted the year’s other high-profile festival films such as “Lincoln,” “Argo” and “The Master,” and should probably be taken with a grain or two of salt. At these early screenings, haters are few and far between. Los Angeles Times movie writer Steven Zeitchik apparently was the only one keeping his handkerchief in his pocket.
“Tom Hooper’s ‘Les Miserables’ a very well done if methodical take on the musical staple,” Zeitchik tweeted. “Hathaway is a stand-out, albeit in very few scenes; Jackman and Crowe singing is solid but doesn’t reach for as much.”