“Life of Pi” have have taken the Best Original Score Oscar for long-serving Canadian composer Mychael Danna — his first ever win — but that was far from the only celebration of music in the movies at tonight’s ceremony.
The odds may be against “Les Miserables” taking Best Picture at the Academy Awards tonight, but don’t tell that to telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who gave the film the most generous showcase of any of the nominees in a glittery number dedicated to three of the Academy’s favorite musicals of the last decade.
The number incorporated key numbers from 2002’s “Chicago” and 2006’s “Dreamgirls,” but while those films got a single number each, performed by an individual cast member, “Les Mis” was granted a closing medley, with the film’s entire principal ensemble — including Best Actor nominee and newly minted Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway — gathering on stage to celebrate the film, which has taken three awards so far.
Some might say it was an overly selective choice of films, but in terms of Academy recognition, they were the three obvious choices. “Chicago” won the Best Picture Oscar over 10 years ago, and while “Dreamgirls” surprisingly missed a top nod six years ago, it nonetheless received eight nominations and won two.
Indeed, both “Chicago” and “Dreamgirls” won Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Hudson, respectively. In a neat bit of symmetry, both were there to represent the film with their signature numbers: Zeta-Jones with a slinky rendition of “All That Jazz” and Hudson with a lung-busting flashback to her revelatory performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
Both performances, I’d venture, were more powerful than a somewhat messy “Les Mis” tribute, which began with Hugh Jackman crooning the Oscar-nominated “Suddenly,” a new addition to the film’s song score, before segueing into a slightly chaotic collage of the musical’s more iconic numbers — and yes, the much-derided Russell Crowe put on a brave face to join his more melodically advantaged co-stars onstage. Good for him. The nifty linking factor of the entire segment, of course, was that Hathaway would make it a hat-trick of featured Best Supporting Actress winners.
In an evening where the running theme has been classic movie music, James Bond received two spotlight numbers. Adele, of course, was on hand to smoothly deliver “Skyfall,” the racing favorite for the Best Original Song Oscar, but before then, veteran Welsh diva Dame Shirley Bassey took the stage — turning the clock back to 1964 with an imperious rendition is “Goldfinger.” It was a tremendous moment, but I can’t have been the only one hoping it would lead into a longer medley of classic 007 themes.
After all, if “Les Mis” got one…