Sure, it’s probably a bit early to be making such claims, particularly since Les Misérables hasn’t even hit theatres yet. (It opens on December 14th.) However, I’m an Oscar buff and I can’t help but be thinking year-round about which films and performances will be honored come February. And so I’m going on record to state that I believe Anne Hathaway will receive an Oscar nomination next year for her supporting role as Fantine in the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical. (Whether Hathaway’s part is considered a lead or supporting role will depend on the adaptation. Those familiar with the stage version know that despite Fantine’s importance to the plot, she has limited stage time. So like Catherine Zeta-Jones’s role in Chicago  and Kate Winslet’s role in The Reader , Hathaway’s role in Les Mis could put her in either the lead or supporting races, depending on voters’ whims.)
Here are my top 5 reasons Hathaway will come one step closer to grabbing that little golden guy:
1. Multi-talented. The Academy tends to like honoring those actors who both sing and act in a movie (e.g., Rita Moreno in West Side Story, 1961; Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins, 1964; Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, 1964). There seems to be a general perception that if you’re able to do both, that makes you more talented than the competition. I don’t necessarily agree with this, but it’s a reality of how the awards go. A prime example is Jennifer Hudson’s Supporting Actress win for Dreamgirls (2006). I might make some enemies here, but, in my opinion, Hudson’s acting performance in that film was sub-par and most definitely not worthy of an Oscar. However, her vocals were impressive and clinched her the award—a disappointment to me since the category in which she won is for acting, not singing.
Those who are familiar with Les Mis know that Fantine’s show-stopping rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” is enough to bring tears to even the most hard-hearted person. In the trailer for the film version (below), Hathaway proves that she does not have the chops to pull off the song with the same gusto. However, her singing is “adequate” and her acting looks to be stunning.
2. Period film. Oscar just loves period films. Titanic. Shakespeare in Love. The English Patient. Forrest Gump. The list goes on. It’s in Hathaway’s favor that her film is not only a period piece, but it’s a historic costume drama. This makes the film stand out, which puts its performers top of mind.
3. Emotionally challenging. The role of Fantine is, in some ways, the anchor of the story of Les Misérables. In order to pull it off, the performer needs to convey gut-wrenching emotion as her character deals with a series of life’s misfortunes, including abuse, poverty, a sense of abandonment of her daughter, and a turn to prostitution. It’s not an easy part to play and it’s one of Broadway’s most coveted roles. If you can nail it, you stand out and earn the admiration of both your acting colleagues and fans. And it requires a woman to cut her hair. (Any alteration of physical appearance can only benefit an actor in pursuit of an Oscar. Think Nicole Kidman in The Hours  or Charlize Theron in Monster ).
4. Precedence. Hathaway has been nominated for an Oscar before (Best Actress for Rachel Getting Married, 2008). This helps since the Academy tends to honor former nominees, especially within relative close proximity to a previous nomination. Hathaway has already proven herself “nomination worthy,” so that hurdle is already cleared. She’s now top of mind for another nomination, as long as it’s for a role in a strong, dramatic movie—like this one.
5. Tom Hooper. Les Mis is director Tom Hooper’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning The King’s Speech (2010), which earned three acting nominations, including a win for Colin Firth. Given Hooper’s success, the Academy views him as a “serious” director who makes quality films and brings out the best in his actors. The King’s Speech is just one of his successes. Hooper also directed the Emmy-winning HBO mini-series John Adams, which earned Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, and Tom Wilkinson Emmy wins. Hooper clearly works well with actors and has a good track record in directing them to award nominations and wins.
Whether Hathaway earns the all-important nomination will be determined the morning of January 15th. And if she does, you heard it here first.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVUk-BRZVAM]