Les Mis has been nominated for a total of 8 eight Oscars. I am not all that worried about Makeup, Sound Mixing, Production Design, and even Music. That leaves four (real) categories and I do not think Les Mis deserves to win any of these.
Just to be clear: Les Mis is a good film. I actually really enjoyed it, but here is where the problem lies. It was not so much the film I enjoyed but the musical. The performances were good but never exceptional. Hathaway and Jackman were solid and emotive but it was the songs that made their performances deeply moving. If either Hugh Jackman or Anne Hathaway win Oscars then Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, and Jean-Marc Natel (perhaps even Herbert Kretzmer) deserve to collect the award with them as well.
There were moments when the film attempted to do something with the story that was interesting, for example, both the opening and the closing scenes were well-conceived. But aside from these small moments there was nothing substantive that either Hooper or the cast brought to this film. It would have taken very bad performances for this not to work, as evidenced by Crowe’s tolerable Javert. In any other setting this would have been worthy of a Razzie.
The costumes were good, particularly the Thénardiers (who, perhaps, unsurprisingly seemed like something out of a Tim Burton film), but not noticeably better than some of the other films nominated. I suppose I would not begrudge them this particular award but ‘Why Les Mis should only win one Oscar’ is not quite so provocative as a title.
Now, admittedly, I think if you are going hand out Oscars to films like Chicago then you should probably give them to Les Mis; the latter is certainly a far better production.
The critical questions for me while watching this film was whether it brought something new to an otherwise excellent production. I am afraid it quite clearly does not and deserve the praise that it has received.