Oscar Showdown: ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ vs. ‘Les Miserables’

By Sarah Contreras

The 85th Academy Awards will take place Feb. 24. As per usual, a slew of films have earned nominations–who has time to watch every one? In part three of this series, columnist Sarah Contreras will wade through the river of films and tell you what is worth seeing and what simply isn’t worth your time.

Break out the popcorn or don’t waste your time? This week’s reviewed films are Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” and Rich Moore’s “Wreck-It Ralph.”

“Wreck-It Ralph”

Category: Best Animated Film

Watch It: Watch it

It’s easy to forget the simple power of an all-around sweet film. Thankfully, “Wreck-It Ralph’ is more than willing to remind viewers of that.

When Wreck-It Ralph becomes tired of his gig as a destructive, disliked video game villain, he abandons Fix-It Felix Jr. and attempts to win glory in other games in the arcade.

From the Halo-esque first person shooter Hero’s Duty to the candy-themed racing game, Sugar Rush, Ralph blunders his way into obstacle after obstacle.

Funny, charming and visually phenomenal, the film is a fine example of Disney’s signature technological advancement as well as an exceptional talking point about acceptance.

In Sugar Rush, Ralph inadvertently teams up with the precocious Vanellope von Schweetz. Vanellope is ostracized by the other Sugar Rushers as a “glitch” – she malfunctions frequently and uncontrollably. Her struggle with, and eventual acceptance of, her quirk is a whole-hearted nod to neurodiversity, individualism and positive self-esteem.

Wreck-It Ralph is a film for those both young and not-so-young, and it will leave viewers with a smile–guaranteed.

“Les Miserables”

Category: Best Picture

Watch It: Watch It

Hooper dreamed a dream, and what a dream it was.

His epic silver screen realization of “Les Miserables,” one of the most celebrated musicals of the 20th century, is nothing less than completely over-the-top. Filled with sweeping, awkward camera movements and a certain amount of overacting, Hooper’s “Les Mis” is this year’s obvious Oscar contender.

But its obviousness doesn’t make it a bad film. Sure, Hooper spends too much time focused on his actor’s faces (and what beautiful faces they are!) and maybe Eddie Redmayne’s Marius is the 19th century equivalent of today’s college-shirking Occupy Wall Streeters.

There are a ton of things we could nitpick, except that would be missing the point. “Les Miserables”’ music is so memorable and so damned gorgeous that no amount of hysterical emoting can distract from it.

Each actor commits, so when Éponine (Samantha Barks), Cosette (Amanda Seyfried), and even Javert (played by Russell Crowe, who isn’t a great singer, but points for trying) have their big moment, the effect is astounding.

Yes, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman’s performances are big. However, they are just the big distractions (just like Hooper’s directing).

With this “Les Miserables,” it’s the little things that bring the most delight.