Directed by Oscar-winning director Tom Hopper ("The King's Speech), "Les Misérables" marks the first time the musical adaptation of Victor Hugo's tragic 1862 novel has hit the screen. Starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, it's being hailed as one of the best films of the year.
There's no denying that the screenings are part of a campaign undertaken by Universal Pictures to ensure that the film, set to hit theaters on Christmas Day, is viewed by media and industry professionals before Oscar ballots are handed in on Jan. 3. According to Deadline, Hooper hosted six screenings in Los Angeles on Saturday for Guild members and Academy voters.
As the The Huffington Post reports, the film's first screening was met with a standing ovation. Jay Weston, a blogger for the outlet, posted the story, "Les Misérables' May Be the Best Movie I Have Ever Seen."
"Indeed, this movie is the most thrilling film I have seen in many, many years, perhaps ever," said Weston. "I read that it has taken 27 years to bring this version of 'Les Misérables' to the screen. It was worth the wait. It is the cinematic musical experience of a lifetime."
Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast chimed in, "‘Les Miserables’ Is New Frontrunner for Best Picture Oscar" and called the film "one of the most joyous, epic experiences you’ll have in a cinema this year."
"No movie musical has seriously contended for the best picture Oscar since 'Chicago' (2002) won it a decade ago, though several have tried…," wrote Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood Reporter. "But, judging by the loud applause that followed every one of 'Les Mis' big numbers … and the raucous standing ovation that the film and its key talent received once its credits started to roll, that could certainly change this year."
Jon Weisman of Variety noted that though the film has its flaws, Hathaway's gripping performance as the doomed prostitute Fantine is what will carry the film to Oscar glory.
"The best award possibilities for 'Les Miserables' reside in Anne Hathaway's performance, which elevates the character of Fantine far above any version I've ever seen, delivering its own kind of seamlessness where musical and reality don't seem like two separate constructs. It's desperately moving work."
According to People, the actress shed 25 pounds and agreed to chop off most of her hair for the role.
"Anne Hathaway could easily win supporting actress," Dave Karger of Fandango tweeted of the actress's performance. "Her 'I Dreamed a Dream' is the showstopper."
While the positive buzz surrounding the film continues to build, the musical has a great deal of competition in the Best Picture Oscar race. Last week, Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" emerged as a serious threat to the film's potential award's season victory. Furthermore, audiences favorites like "Argo" and "Silver Linings Playbook" could potentially walk away with the big award of the night.