Will ‘Les Miserables’ duplicate success of ‘Chicago’ at Oscars?

One hundred years from now, film historians may look back at an Oscar race from the early 21st century and note the fascinating slate of Best Picture nominees.

1. A Christmas time release of a lavish screen adaptation of a noted Broadway musical

2. A depiction of key American events in the mid 1800’s with Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead

3. An enthralling true story of hiding out and escaping from a radical political regime

4. A portrait of an individual coping with depression and its impact on family members

5. A visually stunning fantasy based on a book many considered too difficult to film

But will they be referring to this year’s “Les Miserables,” “Lincoln,” “Argo” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Life of Pi”?

Or the 2002 contest which featured “Chicago,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Pianist,” “The Hours” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”?

The similarities between the two derbies exactly one decade apart are fascinating. What could be even more interesting is if the musical prevails again — with the same number of nominations and wins in the exact same categories.

To refresh your memory, ten years ago “Chicago” earned a near-record 13 Oscar nominations. It went on to win six of bids: Picture, Supporting Actress (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing and Sound Mixing.

This year, it’s quite possible that “Les Miserables” will hit the same notes with the Academy and also receive 13 nods. And it’s conceivable that it could win the same six categories as “Chicago.”


Most Oscaralogists would agree that “Les Miz” has a very good chance of claiming the top prize of Best Picture; it’s probably much farther ahead than “Chicago” was at this time back in 2002.

Anne Hathaway is widely seen a near lock for Best Supporting Actress. Her singing “I Dreamed a Dream” in the trailer recalls Zeta-Jones tuning “All That Jazz” in the “Chicago” previews.

Despite tough competition from other period films, “Les Miserables” is a good bet to win for both Production Design and Costume Design. And since musicals often win Sound Mixing, don’t be surprised if it wins again there.

Editing may be its toughest race, with the flashy “Argo,” “and “Zero Dark Thirty” likely to be in contention. But since Best Picture and Film Editing often do match up, “Les Miz” can’t be ruled out.

With a month to go before the Oscar nominations are even announced, there’s a lot that could still change. But if history repeats itself, it will be the subject of great discussion for many years to come. Chicago and Paris – think of it as a tale of two cities (and films) both filled with Oscar gold.

8 thoughts on “Will ‘Les Miserables’ duplicate success of ‘Chicago’ at Oscars?

  1. Chicago was funny , sexy and entertaining , but Les Miz is for a more select crowd; many folks will find it tedious, and at times, monotonous ….music lovers will love L M and history buffs will love Lincoln , but the rest of us ? …..only so so

  2. Tariq, your idea lines up with GoldDerby’s current predictions for Best Picture, Director, Actress & Supporting Actress. Some small problems, though: (a) If it holds, Affleck would win both Director & Actor; he’s in the 2002 positions of both Polanski & Brody, but both Oscar history & current buzz suggest he gets Director only, leaving Day-Lewis to make up for the Oscar he lost 10 years ago. (b) Does that make The Master (Hoffman leading for Supporting Actor) this year’s Adaptation (Chris Cooper won in 2002)? And (c) that seems to deep-six “Suddenly” for Original Song (“I Move On” didn’t win either), so what’s this year’s “Lose Yourself”? The only rap tune I’ve seen with even a hint of eligibility is Rick Ross’ song for Django Unchained, but IMO it has too many samples to qualify. I’m not quite ready to assume “Skyfall” or “Learn Me Right” wins by default.

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