As an armchair film critic, it takes me a while to finish seeing most of the “best” films of a year. There are still a half dozen smaller films that got great reviews I haven’t seen from 2012, about 15 films I’d still really like to see, and others I’ll discover down the road. So my Top Films list is always a work in progress. I feel no obligation to establish it in stone right this second.
As a whole, I thought 2012 was an outstanding year – one of the best overall in a while in depth. And, unlike some recent years, the best films weren’t all completely depressing. Of the 9 films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, 8 of them made my top 20. Only Amour (AKA 2 hours of incredible sadness) didn’t quite make it.
Just before the Oscars, I will reveal my picks and predictions, but here is (ever-evolving) Top films of 2013.
Need a Les Mis: The Movie drinking game? Drink every time a character sheds one tear. You’ll be dead of alcohol poisoning before the first dead revolutionary. The intimacy, close-ups, and emotion of Les Misérables are well summed up in those copious single tears.
The arrival of Les Misérables to the big screen was met with eager anticipation and a great deal of nervousness by her die hard fans. Previous “stage to screen” adaptations range from the good (Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera) to decent (Hairspray, Rent) to lousy (The Producers) to the complicated (Sweeney Todd). How would they ruin this amazing show in the conversion to a Hollywood movie? For those less familiar or not at all familiar with the musical, would they be drawn in to see it and would it make any sense?
Well, they didn’t ruin Les Misérables. If you loved it before, you are likely enjoyed most of it. If you disliked it or musicals in general, this will make it worse. If you never really knew it, and like musicals, you’re probably okay.
So here’s a quick review of different aspects of the film.
Finished my unnecessary listening to the 5 soundtracks to Les Misérables that I own. They range from the standard Broadway cast recording to the only complete and full recording of the entire score.
As I enjoyed myself, I found a few things. Some of the songs do not hold up on repeat usage (I find “Turnings” to be a bit annoying and frankly “Castles on a Cloud” loses some charm with frequent listening). Some most definitely do (anything sung by Jean Valjean – regardless of the performer, “One More Day”, “Do You Hear the People Sing”).
I also recognized listening to the songs that I don’t actually know as many of the words as I think I do. Certainly on the songs with many parts overlapping, I am not sure of myself. But even some of the solos, I am a bit weak on my singing along abilities. I also knew that hearing these stupendous voices on the recordings were setting me up for disappointment. I adore Hugh Jackman, but he isn’t going to hit that high note at the end of “Who Am I?”
I couldn’t help but speculate which songs weren’t going to make it to the final version. The Complete Symphonic Recording is about 2:45. The movie musical is 2:37 and includes a brand new song (“Suddenly” sung by Valjean). Clearly stuff is going.