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December 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

To borrow a line from the French national anthem, “Le jour de gloire est arrivée!” (The day of glory has arrived!) The debut of the musical film version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables has touched off dozens of solid reviews that could help it with ticket sales and perhaps lift it past The Hobbit to number to No. 1 at the holiday box office and eventually to the stage of the Academy Awards. “You’d be a fool to bet against the Oscar chances of Les Misérables, packed as it is with A-list stars and aching tonsils,” writes Peter Howell in the Toronto Star. Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News predicts that the film “will become a leading contender for the 2013 Academy Awards.” Richard Roeper on his blog writes that it is “sure to garner multiple Oscar nominations.” And Claudia Puig in USA Today suggests that two of those nominations have already been locked up by the two leads, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. In particular, most critics agree that Hathaway’s performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” is a show-stopper. Hathaway, writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, “holds you rapt with raw, trembling emotion. She devours the song, the scene, the movie, and turns her astonishing, cavernous mouth into a vision of the void.” Liam Lacey in the Toronto Globe and Mail remarks, “Emaciated and with her hair shorn, Hathaway is shown sobbing, and the cracks in her voice are less about conventional singing than delivering a deathbed soliloquy.” But the film also has attracted more than its fair share of criticism. Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune does something few critics rarely have done. He states flatly, “I didn’t like it.” He particularly faults director Tom Hooper for his use of close-ups in many of the musical numbers. “With the camera an inch away from everybody’s noses, you worry about catching a cold or something,” he writes. Rafer Guzmán in Newsday comments that Hooper “bets everything on his actors, a strategy that earned him an Oscar for The King’s Speech. But he forgets the overall sense of, well, theater needed to adapt a musical like this one.” But Les Mis has something else going for it as it hits theaters over the holidays. As one of the longest-running Broadway shows, it has been seen and loved by thousands. It has also been seen my thousands more on the road. And Steven Rea concludes in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “If you love Les Mis the stage musical, my guess is you will love what Hooper and his bustling company have done.”