A group of singing revolutionaries, a terrorist takedown expert, a bi-polar romantic, and Abraham Lincoln walk into a movie theater … That’s the line-up heading to the multiplex this holiday season, and in this week’s Entertainment Weekly we go behind-the-scenes of the musical rebellion Les Miserables (out Dec. 14), the Osama bin Laden search-and-destroy mission Zero Dark Thirty (coming in December), Bradley Cooper’s unhinged love story Silver Linings Playbook (Nov. 21), and talk to Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner about his screenplay adaptation for Lincoln (Nov. 8). And with award season in full swing, we also forecast the Oscar hopes for these films, as well a many others striving toward that golden Hollywood god.
Les Miserables: Les Mis comes to the screen 25 years after its Tony-winning Broadway debut, 150 years after the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel, and 180 years after the Paris Uprising depicted in the story, in which a mob of students and the impoverished lashed out at a ruling class they felt had neglected them. Despite being rooted in those distant eras, the film’s themes of greed and indifference that could be ripped from the rhetoric of the presidential election about the growing divide between haves and have-nots. “We’re not making some Masterpiece Theater show. This is not just some period movie. This is something that’s relevant. Classic literature, classic stories like Les Miserables stick around for a reason,” says star Hugh Jackman.
Silver Linings Playbook: With director David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook – one of the films already generating serious Oscar heat — Cooper tells us he’s looking to shed his image as the cocky alpha male with this role as an emotionally raw, mentally unbalanced man, who’s looking for lo ve in all the wrong places – until he meets another wildcard, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Critics are already heaping praise on his work in the movie. “I’ve become aware that there was a little bit of ‘He’s not really an actor—he’s just the guy from The Hangover,’ ” Cooper says. “I guess people were surprised that that’s the same guy.”
Zero Dark Thirty: Jessica Chastain doesn’t have as much to prove, after a remarkable breakthrough last year with The Tree of Life, The Debt, and an Oscar nomination for The Help, but she still has an immense burden to carry as the central figure in Zero Dark Thirty, about the decade-long hunt to track down the most wanted terrorist in the world. “You really see the drive and the journey that this woman takes, and you see her unravel,” she says.
Lincoln: Kushner was the man who held it all together on Lincoln, even though at first “the subject and the man just seemed too big to me.” The Angels in America playwright focused the epic Steven Spielberg historical drama on one key part of the 16th president’s life – his drive to have slavery forever outlawed by the Constitution. In a Q&A in the issue, he describes some of star Daniel Day-Lewis’ intense acting process. “Daniel said to me before we started filming, ‘I hope it’s not going to upset you when we stop speaking when this starts.’ I asked why. And he said, ‘I’m really only going to be able to have a conversation at that point with Steven,’ because he gets so deep into the part.”
Read more about these films and more in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands November 2.