Some Oscar wins are the product of decades of work. Some reward powerhouse performances that carry a film. Sometimes, though, they go to the best five minutes of the year. I’m not a giant Anne Hathaway fan. I am not a part of the disturbingly vocal “Hathahate” community on the net, but I honestly have never been blown away by her. The giant exception to that is the best five minutes performed by any actor or actress in 2012: Hathaway’s phenomenal performance of “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Miserables.
Holding the camera for five minutes by simply acting your way through a song performance is about as difficult a task as a screen actor can be handed, but Hathaway is mesmerizing. “I Dreamed a Dream” is unquestionably Les Miserables’s signature number, and there are a staggering amount of awful things happening to her character by the time she breaks into the anthem about shattered hope. It would have been easy to end up chewing the scenery or being swallowed by the material, but Hathaway gives a nuanced and powerful vocal that stole this film. I saw this on Christmas Day 2012, which was a bit of a surreal experience. To me, misadventures of tuberculosis-ridden French revolutionaries does not exactly say, “Seasons Greetings!” I was, however, soundly outvoted by my family. While I may be lukewarm on the film as a whole, this scene was easily more than worth the ticket price.
One of the primary reasons that James Mangold’s Logan works so well as a send-off to Hugh Jackman’s 17 years playing Wolverine is that it does the opposite of nearly every superhero movie convention expected. The end result earned critical and commercial acclaim and an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay (a Wolverine movie got an Oscar nomination for screenplay; thought I’d say that again). More than a superhero film, Logan has more in common with the Western where an old gunslinger goes out on a final quest (more Unforgiven than X-Men).
In fact, my favorite cut of the film is Logan Noir: the black & white version of the film included as bonus feature on the Blu Ray. Denuded of a lot of the effect of the blood, the film feels more in tune with an old warrior’s final journey. But Mangold does give the fans, at the end of the film, one final berserker charge from Wolverine as he races to save his daughter and the last mutant children from the Reavers. Even that scene though, if you put him on a horse and swapped his claws for six-shooters, would be straight out of a Western. Kudos to Jackman for 17 years as the world’s favorite mutant, and to James Mangold for figuring out a way to give us a Wolverine that was off his leash, yet more true to the character’s roots than in any other film he’s been in.
WhatCulture delivers an intriguing list: Top 10 Awful Movies With Awesome Openings. I have to slap a GRAPHIC VIOLENCE warning on this one, as-shockingly-a lot of these disappointing films happen to be horror movies. Shocking indeed. This is a great idea for a list as moviegoers have all experienced films that start out surprisingly well for what they believed they were getting into only to have the film then do a graceful swan dive right into the ground so viscerally that you can actually hear the studio laughing in your head that they got your money. I’ve seen most of the films on this list and have no problems with any inclusions other than Super Troopers, which I think is uneven after it’s superb opening rather than an awful film. The rest: yes, undoubtedly.
What movies started off well for you and then exploded in front of your eyes?
You know there’s been a massive shift in the way Hollywood views musicals when a blockbuster Christmas release is marketed on the back of lyricists. The Greatest Showman, Hugh Jackman’s first film post-Wolverine, is a musical “biopic” of circus pioneer and American showman P.T. Barnum. It’s songs are brought to you by the team of lyricists that worked with composer Justin Hurwitz to make La La Land’s magic last year. The Greatest Showman is, by no means, another La La Land. That film was one of strongest films in every aspect of the last few years. The Greatest Showman can be heavy-handed and overly earnest, but it’s well-meaning and charming and-in the end-your opinion of the film probably will rise or fall with how much you like those songs touted on the movie’s poster. Continue reading Movie Review: The Greatest Showman (2017) *Not the Greatest But Pretty Darn Good*→
Hugh Jackman’s first film of his post-Wolverine career will be a routine to his roots: musicals. An unknown song and dance man before becoming a household name thanks to his iconic portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men films, Jackman will be headlining the big holiday musical of 2017. With the songwriters of La La Land, will The Greatest Showman, starring Jackman as circus legend P.T. Barnum be able to duplicate that film’s success? To listen to the full version of the song “This Is Me” by Keana Settle, which will be going head-to-head with Beauty and the Beast’s contributions come Oscar time, scroll down. It’s literally playing on loop in my head and has been for days. Co-starring Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, and Zendaya, The Greatest Showman will open Christmas Day. Read more below from Coming Soon.
Inspired by the imagination of P.T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
The Greatest Showman is directed by exciting new filmmaker, Michael Gracey, with songs by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land). Hugh Jackman produced The Greatest Showman alongside Laurence Mark and Chernin Entertainment. Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Jenny Bicks (Rio 2, Sex and the City) and Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Beauty and the Beast) wrote the screenplay.