Movie Forum: The 'Les Mis' most miserable singer debate

05:00 AM, Jan 04, 2013

The Movie Forum tackles the toughest question of its tenure: Who is the worst singer in 'Les Miserables?' Laurie Sparham, Universal Pictures/


Every Wednesday, the Movie Forum convenes to discuss the latest news from the film world and answer questions submitted by you, the reader.

This week, movie reporters Bryan Alexander and Brian Truitt discussed the films of 2013, debated who was the worst singer in Les Miserables, exposed the Academy’s bias against time travel movies, and, of course, answered readers’ questions.

Enjoy the chat and submit your questions for next week below.

John Elliot: Welcome to the first USA TODAY Movie Forum of the new year!

Happy Twenty Baker’s Doz, film fans!

I’m John Elliot, online producer for USA TODAY Movies and I will serve as your moderator. Joining me today is USA TODAY movie reporters Bryan Alexander and Brian Truitt.

How this works - Each week we solicit questions, online, from our readers on certain movie topics.

This week…We’re all about 2013! What are the films to watch for in this brand, new year? The Br(y/i)ans will discuss.

Brian, let’s start with you…

What are the blockbusters and box office behemoths we should be on the look out for in 2013?

Brian Truitt: Happy New Year, peeps! Well, superhero movies have been doing well the past few years, and that should hold to form again with Iron Man 3 in May, The Wolverine in July and Thor: The Dark World in November. Chris Hemsworth, and then Turkey Day!

Not calling you a turkey, Chris. Please don’t punch me.

Bryan Alexander: You’re toast

Brian Truitt: Totes toast.

But there are some others that should do well too: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out in November, too, the next Hobbit in December, and of course I forgot Man of Steel back there. Plus, the Pixar prequel Monsters University will no doubt do boffo bucks with the kiddos.

Bryan Alexander: And let’s not forget – Star Trek Into Darkness!!

Brian Truitt: Set my phasers to fun for that one.

Bryan Alexander: My personal friend JJ showed me and 100 of his best journalists friends additional footage last week and it was just amazing.

I can’t discuss, but trust me, geeks were geeking out.

Brian Truitt: You Hollywood guys get all the fun, Bryan. Anything you saw that was EXTREMELY awesome in it? Something you can tease our geeks?

Bryan Alexander: Awesome! just awesome. It was like 10 minutes. JJ made us promise not to discuss it. In fact, I should just shut up.

Brian Truitt: JJ’s so gonna send a Klingon after us.

Bryan Alexander: Bring it! But it was at Bad Robot his production facility and I got a Enterprise t-shirt.

Brian Truitt: Neato!

John Elliot: Bryan, I know we are still in the THICKEST of things with this year’s Award Season…but play the part of prognosticator’s prognosticator: What are the films will be the critical/awards darlings of 2013?

Bryan Alexander: Four words: Anchorman: The Legend Continues

It’s always fun to guess in the beginning of the year. And CLEARLY this will all change and shift. But it’s really hard to ignore Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby. Even with the early (May) release, it’s going to attract a lot of attention.

Great cast, Leo, Cary Mulligan as Daisy Buchanon, Isla Fisher. And so on. Big sweeping epic.

Brian Truitt: That’ll win the Oscar for Best Awesome Movie with a Hairpiece.

Bryan Alexander: I love Anchorman!

Brian Truitt: I love lamp!

Bryan Alexander: Also Martin Scorsese has a new film The Wolf of Wall Street with Leonardo DiCaprio (again, that’s five. That’s amazing). Timely stuff on Wall Street corruption.

George Clooney’s Monuments Men, already positioned for a key December release. Daniel Craig, Clooney and yes Jean Dujardin who is hitting 1,000 in terms of his Hollywood Oscar success (one for one). So this has got buzz all of it.

Jean Dujardin is in a couple of film next year’s interestingly enough. That’s a sidebar!

Hard to ignore Saving Mr. Banks about the production of Mary Poppins. Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Kind of hard to resist. And it’s in his acting wheelhouse.

That’s what strikes me. What about you Brian?

Other than Anchorman of course…

Brian Truitt: Tom Hanks as real people is always an Academy pleaser. And he’s got Banks and Captain Phillips, which is again about a real guy. I think Elysium has the potential for a best picture nod with Matt Damon in space. Another one could be 42, with Harrison Ford as old Dodgers exec Branch Rickey and newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson.

Historical biopics are a fave. You know, like Anchorman.

Bryan Alexander: Yah and that has an inspiring story line and Harrison Ford.

Brian Truitt: I also like what I hear about Prisoners, a thriller with Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in September. It also has Oscar bait in the form of Viola Davis and Melissa Leo.

John Elliot: Finally, before we move on to reader’s questions, January is typically Hollywood’s dump season, the time for films that weren’t going to be award contenders, but are there any diamonds in the rough over these next few weeks?

Brian Truitt: I have seen some seriously bad movies in Januaries past. However, I’m not sure Mama will be one of those. It has creepy horror-movie kids, Jessica Chastain looking goth and has been championed by Guillermo Del Toro. And that guy knows his horror flicks.

Bryan Alexander: There are a lot of horror movies in January

It’s like we went from Christmas back to Halloween

But I am totally looking forward to see Last Stand with Arnold returning to his first feature film lead role since the Gov.

Not going to be Oscar bait, but it looks funny. And Johnny Knoxville is just one of the merry band of locals fighting off a local drug lord.

Brian Truitt: That looks action-packed for sure. And Johnny Knoxville acting like a nutball,which could be good or bad.

Bryan Alexander: I am going to say good, before I see it next week.

Brian Truitt: What could be bad in a good way - or bad in a bad way - is Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. If played for camp, could be enjoyable. I dig Gemma Arterton in pretty much anything, and Jeremy Renner doesn’t sign on to too many bad movies. He’s Hawkeye for goodness sake!

Bryan Alexander: Yes, that has a January smell to it.

But we also have so many Oscar films that are going into wider release. I was bummed out not to be able to see Zero Dark Thirty when I was in Chicago for the holidays.

So a little of everything. And if all else fails, see Lincoln again

Brian Truitt:Yep, and January is usually a time where people will catch up on award flicks before the ceremonies.

John Elliot:Now let’s move on to questions from our lovely readers!

Saul Vesecky from Monterey, CA asks:

Who will win the eventual Best Picture Oscar…??? Not one picture really stands out but i am musing/going with ARGO.

Bryan Alexander:Clearly Argo is right up there and a great flick. But I’m still feeling the Lincoln vibe. Call me a nut for the guy with the stove top and the beard. But it’s going to start on a roll go to Spielberg and Day-Lewis and the big mo is going to take the top spot. That’s my call. Brian?

Brian Truitt:Lincoln, Schmincoln. I think it’ll do well in the acting categories, and it’ll get a best pic nod, but I’m going with Les Miserables to win. I was on the Silver Linings Playbook train for a while, but I blame Russell Crowe’s crooning for my bandwagon jumping. Seriously, though, it has everything you’d want in a best pic, from acting to big set pieces to just overall epicness.

Bryan Alexander:Is that what Russell was doing? Crooning?

Brian Truitt:That’s what I’d call it yes. He’s got a band, man!

Plus, Javert is supposed to sound a little weird. Maybe not that weird, but I respect the man and his vocal chords. Otherwise he might throw a phone at me.

Bryan Alexander:I love the movie. Really. But Anne Hathaway is what swept me away. I want her to lead me to heaven when it’s my time to go. I literally want Anne Hathway to point the way and sing.

Brian Truitt:Oh yeah, I don’t see her losing supporting actress. She is soooo gooood.

Bryan Alexander:But actually I loved Amanda Seyfried. She sings like a beautiful bird.

Brian Truitt:See, that is not a good thing. Of all the cast, I think she’s the weak link.

After Samantha Barks’ performance as Eponine, I totally wanted Marius to go off script and pick her instead of Fantine.

Bryan Alexander:Those are fighting words BT!!

Brian Truitt:Let’s do this!!! I’ve got Crowe in my corner with a phone.

Bryan Alexander: You win. I surrender. Samantha was amazing. But Amanda was a little slice of heaven to me.

Comment From Lawrence:

I don’t know why every critic is ragging on Crowe’s vocal performance. I mean everybody has heard worse for goodness sake!

Bryan Alexander:Well stated Lawrence!

Brian Truitt:You hear what the people are singing, Lawrence!

Bryan Alexander:Wonder what Lawrence thinks of Amanda’s voice

Leigha O asks:

Are there any good independent films coming in 2013? Also, can we expect any movies from the Cohen Bros. this year, or has this been discussed?

Bryan Alexander:Yes, I cannot wait. Inside Llweyn Davis it’s called. I think I am actually spelling that right. It’s about the New York folk scene. I was just talking to John Goodman about it a while ago. He’s back working with The Bros. And that’s going to be fun to watch.

It will be interesting to see Justin Timberlake in this role. He needs a hit! It’s actually a great cast.

Brian Truitt:Oscar Isaac was pretty cool in Sucker Punch, and he’s the guy playing Llewyn so I like that casting. Carey Mulligan in a Coen movie sounds like it could be interesting too.

Isn’t Iron Man 3 an indie? (Kidding!)

Bryan Alexander:Speaking of Indie: Joss does have Much Ado About Nothing. That looks interesting.

It’s a black and white version version of the great Shakespeare play which was shot like in his home. That’s out this winter.

Brian Truitt:That’s like a smorgasbord of Joss goodness in that movie. All kinds of Buffy/Dollhouse/Firefly alums like Alexis Denisor, Nathan Fillion and Amy Acker.

Bryan Alexander:Yes Joss Whedon. Lord of Avengers

Brian Truitt:And here I thought we were speaking of Joss Stone…

Bryan Alexander:Just don’t call him Josh

Brian Truitt:NEVER.

Lawrence asks:

I was good with Seyfried’s performance, but Samantha Banks, where did that amazing talent come from?

Bryan Alexander:Lawrence! We definitely saw the same movie!

Brian Truitt:They plucked Barks right from the stage of the musical, actually. She played Eponine in the West End Les Mis from 2010 to 2011, although she probably didn’t have to sing in the pouring rain for that one.

Maybe you guys saw a version of the movie where Seyfried sounded good.

Bryan Alexander:Ow!

We’re going to come sing to you Brian

Brian Truitt:Please don’t.

Caroline from Philly asks:

The SAG nominations shut out Beasts of the Southern Wild favorite Quvenzhane Wallis (and I know she wasn’t qualified for the GGs). I thought she was brilliant and deserves an Oscar nomination. Do you think she stands a chance for an Oscar nod?

Bryan Alexander:Funny enough I just interviewed her. She’s such an amazing force and totally in the Best Actress hunt at aged nine

And she deserves it. I think the non-eligible part was for the SAG awards.

Due to the fact that she was not a professional actress because she was like, literally five years old in Louisiana when she tried out for the film

But it would be amazing to see her get a nomination. To quote Roger Ebert “she’s a force of nature” both in the movie and in real life.

Brian Truitt:Completely agreed. Worse case is she doesn’t get a nod but we were introduced to an actress who we’ll get to watch grow for years to come. But I think she has a real shot at a nod. I don’t think the best actress field is as competitive as supporting this year.

Plus, I REALLY want to see her acceptance speech.

Bryan Alexander:Oh god. So right. And It would be fun to watch announce or present at the Oscars. It would be a really spontaneous moment.

She’s a charmer for sure.

Brian Truitt:No doubt. And there’s nothing more charming than for a kid to go rogue at an awards ceremony.

Jack S from Chicago asks:

How will the Oscars/Golden Globes compare more standard movies/screenplays like “Lincoln” and “Argo” with more outrageous films like “Django Unchained” and “Moonrise Kingdom”?

Bryan Alexander:It’s really the usual kind of issue. Every year it’s the same kind of thing. The silent black and white film The Artist versus Moneyball or Tinker Tailor, Hugo, Tree of Life. No movie fits into a little box.

There is a little more disparity there year.

When you have Moonrise Kingdom and Django that’s a wide gulf.

But with the Golden Globes they of course break it up into “comedies and musicals” and “dramas” so that’s interesting.

But the Oscars are the great movie melting pot.

Brian Truitt:That’s kinda what makes them exciting. Every year, something like Moonrise Kingdom really surprises everyone and is charming and has its fans, and it goes toe to toe with a goliath like Lincoln.

Bryan Alexander:I literally just saw Cloud Atlas. I don’t think it deserves to be in the race. And a little jarring. But I thought, “interesting.”

Brian Truitt:The Golden Globes are also a good measure to see what could sneak in - like Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was swallowed commercially when it was released the same weekend as The Avengers but is finding the awards love now.

Bryan Alexander:Yes, that’s true. Hard to ignore that cast

But it actually did pretty well, it’s didn’t explode Avengers style but it definitely chugged a long.

Brian Truitt:That’s why I was hoping to see Looper get some GG nods and make my dream come true of a best pic Oscar nod. But alas no.

Bryan Alexander:I think the Oscar rules about one too many time travel movie for Bruce Willis kicked in

Not many people read that subsection.

Brian Truitt:Can Joseph Gordon-Levitt get in the wayback machine and fix that? Or maybe Doc Brown?

Bryan Alexander:There is a anti-bias time travel bias. Hot Tub Time Machine. Snubbed.

Brian Truitt:Seriously. That should have at least gotten a makeup nod.

Bryan Alexander:And the best death scene in a movie.

Still up thinking about that scene.

With Mr. Teddy.

Brian Truitt:Come on, they had to keep putting makeup on after getting in and out of the tot tub time machine!

Bryan Alexander:Sorry, I thought we were talking about Looper.

That death scene where Paul Dano looses all his limbs

Gross

Brian Truitt: Yeah, there was a hot tub time machine in Looper, too, right?

OH YEAH, that scene was awesome.

Bryan Alexander:Looper borrowed heavily from Hot Tub

Brian Truitt:I’m surprised someone didn’t sue.

John Elliot: Well, we’re “out of time” (ha, ha) unfortunately…

Thank you Bryan and Brian. And a VERY big thank you to Lawrence, Leigha and all our readers who participated and submitted questions.

Remember: you can submit your burning movie questions all week long, right here.

Check usatoday.com for Bryan’s look at a year in the life of Quvenzhane Wallis, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and look for Brian’s upcoming piece on all things Star Wars. It’ll help you get your lightsaber fix as we wait two years for the next film.

Bryan Alexander:Bye and thank you!

Brian Truitt:Thanks, guys! And as a great man once said… You stay classy, San Diego.

John Elliot:Thank you all for joining us for the USA TODAY Movie Forum! Please join us again next Wednesday at 3 PM EST/12 PM PST for another edition of Movie Forum.