This is a grand, beautifully shot adaptation of the legendary musical, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Hugh Jackman in the heavy-lifting role of persecuted bread thief Jean Valjean. Set in 19th century France, the musical calls for nearly every word to be sung, and it’s a major undertaking. Hooper had his cast sing live on the set rather than prerecording in a sound booth, and this results in a moving musical experience. Jackman has a spectacular voice, and you get at true sense that he and his costars are acting these songs, rather than lip-synching. Anne Hathaway will probably win an Oscar for her work as Fantine, singing her big number in one take and summoning honest, heart-wrenching tears. Russell Crowe, as Valjean’s lawman nemesis Javert, doesn’t have half of Jackman’s voice, but there’s something about his interpretation that’s appropriate and amplifies the character’s loneliness. Every number is treated with a majestic grace that makes this one of the greatest movie musicals I’ve ever seen.

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