There is no doubt that anyone who has been to the theaters to see the "prestige" films of 2012 this fall has been forced to sit through the original trailer for director Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, which features Anne Hathaway belting "I Dreamed a Dream." It has been effective enough to make it this long as the film's sole trailer (not including the Regal Theaters exclusive behind the scenes video). However, as the release date for one of the biggest films of the year comes around, it is time to start moving out the heavier promotional materials.
I will be very honest when I say that I believe that Les Miserables will be our next Best Picture winner. It is true that director Ben Affleck's Argo is currently considered the front runner (and my favorite currently out nominee is still director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master), but there is still enough time for things to change. As it stands, director David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook is already standing a chance at an upset. Even then, Hooper's film hasn't been too far behind when it has come to top prize consideration. Currently on statistics website Gold Derby, it places at #2 for Best Picture with odds of 11:2. If the film is as successful as many are hoping, this may be the next Best Picture winner.
What makes me believe that Les Miserables will be our next winner? Besides being a popular music based on the novel by Victor Hugo, it has a lot going for it. Majority of its cast has at very least Oscar nominations on their resume. Also, Hooper is coming off of The King's Speech, which won Best Picture in 2011 and already gave him a guarantee of his next project getting nominated, provided that it was good.
And boy does it look good. I have long been obsessed with the original trailer, which may suffer from overplay, but is still a powerful, moving glimpse into this world. That is why I was excited to see the next trailer get released:
I haven't talked about this film in grand detail because there hasn't been too much substantial yet to tear apart. At best, I compared the odds that it had against everyone else. That is why I am taking the time from this new trailer to share my opinions on why it may very well be the next Best Picture winner.
The notable advantage, besides Hooper's previous wins, is that it is a musical. It is true that every year sees the release of musicals, though they are usually dull audience pleasers like Rock of Ages. The last time that a musical won Best Picture was 2002's Chicago, and it did rather nicely. Still, the decade long gap is only making the concept of a well honed musical nominee as something of a revelation. The Academy is kind of about recognizing a diverse collection of films. While it isn't necessarily true to younger themed movies like The Social Network, it does choose to recognize musicals. Even though it didn't get a Best Picture slot, the last good musical to get nominated was Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street. This is just small proof that they are waiting for the right musical, and this critically acclaimed number may just do the trick.
I also believe that Hooper's chances are good because this oddly reminds me of Milos Forman, who was another director with a great eye for ensemble casts. After winning for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, he was capable of doing anything. He went on to win a few years later with Amadeus, including having F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce as Best Actor nominees. The reason that Amadeus is an appealing film is that it is in many ways a story about a rock star and a jealous fan. The movie's excessive use of Mozart music also deserved to call it a classical musical, even if there wasn't any big lyrical numbers. It ended up with 11 nominations and eight wins at the Oscars.
The way that I see it, Les Miserables is set up to be Amadeus of today. Both feature brilliantly ensembles, popular source material, and a compelling story all revolved around music. The Academy should love that. Also, as Hooper has noted in the behind the scenes video, he is doing something revolutionary with this film. He is recording the singers live on the set so that it sounds more passionate. This alone will make the film feel more powerful and may give it the extra edge come voting time.
I do not want to spout off the statistics until closer to the film's release. However, I want to note that the trailer introduces more music, and it is really effective. We also get a stronger sense of the narration and we finally see a lot of characters. Sweeney Todd star Sacha Baron Cohen is in this, and I bet no one saw that coming. This cast looks incredible and the brief orchestration used in these trailers makes it sound like it will be loud and passionate. My only complaint? I notice they're using "Castle on a Cloud" almost as a soundbite to ramp up intensity. It seems a little ridiculous.
If this film fails, I am still supporting The Master for Best Picture. I really hope that Les Miserables delivers. At very least, it will bring in a new batch of musicals that aren't just geared towards audiences. Something deep, complex, and meaningful. That is what this film feels like. This film looks like there is a lot of craft that went into it, thus making it authentic. I really hope that it manages to deliver.
What are your thoughts on the trailer? Is it one too many, or are you glad to finally see more of the story.