As if the phenomenon that was “Les Miserables” wasn’t proof enough, a tribute at Sunday night’s (February 24) Oscars proved that the movie musical has indeed returned. John Travolta was brought out to introduce a star-packed tribute to film musicals from the previous decade.
“Now I’m going to say the word ‘Oscar’ a lot,” Travolta warned before reading off the Oscar-heavy list of performers. The tribute began with a montage from the film “Chicago,” leading into a live performance of “All That Jazz” by Catherine Zeta-Jones. “Chicago” won six Academy Awards back in 2002, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress for Zeta-Jones’ turn as Velma Kelly. Zeta-Jones performed a rollicking rendition of the number, complete with elaborate and risque choreography.
From there, attention turned to “Dreamgirls,” the 2006 film adaptation of the Broadway musical that let Jennifer Hudson add “Oscar winner” to her résumé.. Hudson belted out a powerful “And I Am Telling You,” earning her a standing ovation.
It then came the time to honor the film nominated for eight awards, the one that single-handedly sparked the musical mania currently gripping our nation. The “Les Miserables” portion of the tribute started with Hugh Jackman on a dark, candelit stage, before being joined by Anne Hathaway for “I Dreamed a Dream,” and then followed by pretty much every other human being in the cast (Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Helena Bonham-Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen).
The cast brought the same dedication to the suddenly-tiny-seeming Academy Awards stage that they brought to 19th century France. At the number’s close, French flags descended from the ceiling and the crowd leapt to its feet, proving that musicals are back in a big way.