Anne Hathaway has her Jennifer Hudson moment with ‘Les Miserables’

NEW YORK – Having worked in the movie industry for over 15 years, you can probably guess I’ve seen a lot of films. I’ve often been asked to attend very early screenings for highly anticipated films.  Moreover, I’ve been lucky to attend numerous premieres in Hollywood, New York and on the festival circuit in Toronto, Telluride and Park City.   I have never, however, seen a reaction to a performance in a movie theater like the euphoric response to Jennifer Hudson’s turn as Effie White in “Dreamgirls.”  Spontaneous applause is one thing, an impromptu standing ovation during three separate premieres is something else. And, simply, nothing has ever come close…until this year.  Anne Hathaway clearly doesn’t have Jennifer Hudson’s vocal talent, but she may give Hudson’s legendary awards season a run for her money in “Les Miserables.”

A previous best actress nominee for her role in “Rachel Getting Married,” Anne Hathaway is one of those actresses whose obvious talent has put her on the cusp of Oscar glory. From her underrated, but superb work in Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” to her charismatic transformation in “The Devil Wears Prada” to the aforementioned “Married,” Hathaway has been building a prestige resume precisely for this moment. (And yes, no one will discount the fact she co-hosted one of the worst Academy Awards telecasts of all time, but we’re blaming that one on Mr. Franco and the producers.) 

In Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables,” Hathaway demonstrates that she belongs with some of the classic stage actresses who have played the tragic role of Fantine.  Hooper shoots Hathaway singing the musical’s signature song “I Dreamed A Dream” live in one incredibly moving take and yes, it’s an Oscar bait moment, but boy does it work. I’ve seen two audiences spontaneously applause after the performance and heard reports of similar reactions from other screenings.  When I spoke to Hathaway earlier this month about what is as close to a lock for best supporting actress as you can get, she honestly seemed shocked.  And, to be quite frank, she’s never demonstrated any arrogance that would betray such a humble reaction.  Granted, Hathaway has competition from Sally Field (“Lincoln”), Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”), Amy Adams (“The Master”), Maggie Smith (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and Nicole Kidamn (“Paperboy”), but after she sweeps the Golden Globes and SAG Awards honors (and possibly even BAFTA) Oscar will be cake.

Find out what Hathaway has to say about the training she needed to do for her role in “Les Miserables” and her nervousness singing live in the interview embedded at the top of this post.

“Les Miserables” opens nationwide on Christmas Day.