Like the title says, it's a story about people in misery. And that is not an understatement. I can tell you one thing, after seeing this movie, you won't feel bad about your own life. But man, are their stories beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. To give the cliffnotes version of a couple of characters:
Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) did 20 years time for stealing a loaf of bread, when he finally gets released noone wants to hire him. He's a criminal after all. He changes his name and skips parole, which causes Javert (Russel Crowe) to come after him again.
Fantine (Anne Hathaway), is there a more heartbreaking story then hers? She got pregnant and the father left, which leads to her working and sending the caretakers of her daughter money. A letter is found, she's called a whore and fired. After this she sells everything she has (including her hair, teeth and body) for her little baby, Cosette (as a teenager played by Amanda Seyfried). Jean finds Cosette and rescues her from her caretakers, who also have a daughter called Eponine (Samantha Barks). When they are all grown up, Eponine falls in love with Marius, but he falls in love with Cosette from the minute he meets her. And that's just a little part of all the stories. As you can see: A lot of heartbreak and misery. All these stories are told beautifully and in the most amazing costumes with incredible sets and decors in the background.
Beautiful songs sung by an amazing cast
The musical was once created by Schönberg and Boublil in 1980. Before going to the movie, I knew some songs. Like On my own (sad to say, the first time I heard it was on Dawson's Creek... ouch), and I Dreamed a Dream (so beautiful!!!!! This one I first heard on Glee - I know, I watch too many series). But as it turned out, there were a lot of songs that I had heard before, I just didn't know they were from Les Mis. And what makes this musical even better, is the way they are sung. Tom Hooper came with the brilliant idea to let the cast sing them live. So not pre-record it in the studio and let the actors lip-synch, but sing on the set. I still don't really understand how he did it, but it was such a good choice. There is so much more emotion in some of the songs, that you can not help but be drawn in by them. Of course not all songs can be sung live... The opening scene for example, where Jean Valjean and the other prisoners are doing their work, which is bringing in a shipwreck, they are standing in water which gets in their mouth and everything. So obviously, you would have been able to hear something different there. But the solo's are 'live' for sure. Especially the solo's by Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give you goosebumps. I haven't seen Lincoln yet, but I would love him to get the Oscar. About Anne... No question, she HAS the win the award. If she doesn't, the academy is crazy. They also have to win all the music/sound awards, due to the fact that it's a musical and all of these departments did their work wonderfully.
Anne Hathaway is the star
You might ask why. She actually plays a little part and - spoiler alert - she dies pretty much in the beginning. But her performance, not to mention her singing, is so incredible. It's like nothing you've EVER seen... One of those moments that you think 'no one is that good. This can't be real.' The story is gripping yes, but Anne gives it all. The way she looks, how broken she plays and the power in her voice, it's all there. She gave the performance of a lifetime and years after people have seen this movie, they will still remember Anne. That's why she's the star and she has to win. Everything combined (sound, music, costumes, production design, cast), I would love it if Les Mis wins Best Picture. I've seen Argo and I would understand it if that movie won (especially since Ben Affleck isn't nominated as a director), but I still pretty much want Les Mis to win it...
The Oscars have been won and Les Mis didn't go home empty handed :D. Of course Anne had to win. She gave a lovely speech and she totally deserved it. Les Mis was nominated for eight Oscars and won three of them (Best Supporting Role for Anne Hathaway, Achievement in Sound Mixing and Make-up and Hairstyling). The other Oscars went to:
Best Picture: Argo (Ben Affleck, so no Les Mis)
Best Director: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis (for Lincoln, that was expected, sorry Hugh)
Best Actrice: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook, which I still have to see)
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Waltz (Django Unchained, 2nd win)
Best Supporting Actrice: Anne Hathaway!!!!
Best Song: Skyfall by Adele (yeah, I can't actually argue with that one. Too bad about Suddenly from Les Mis though, because it really is a song that gives you goosebumps).
Best Sound Design: Life of Pi
Best Production Design: Lincoln (though Les Mis was nominated)
Best Costume Design: Anna Karenina (Les Mis was beautiful though)
Best Sound Editing: Zero Dark Thirty & Skyfall (a tie!!!! :O)
Best Visual Effects: Life of Pi (among the team was the Dutch Erik-Jan de Boer)
Best Editing: Argo
Best Foreign Picture: Amour
Best Animation: Brave
Best Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man
Best Short Film: Curfew
Best Short Documentary: Inocente
Best Short Animated Film: Paperman