These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Audio Effects of Awesome: A new technique of the film that was well publicized before its premiere was that the actors' vocals were recorded live on the set, in order that the music would be synched to them rather than the other way around. The result created a very natural performance, averting off-cue lip synching, and restored believability to some scenes, such as Éponine's death, which now could sound like one was actually in pain rather than continuing to project strong tones when one was supposedly dying.
Award Snub: Despite eight Oscar nominations, there were some critical overlooks, namely Tom Hooper for Best Director, Eddie Redmayne for Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It wasn't exactly highly praised (only receiving 70% in Rotten Tomatoes) but with so many nominations one would expect it to win more.
Then again, this also delves into the Broken Base section below, as there were many who thought Tom Hooper's direction was the weakest aspect of the film, and hampered it so much that they claimed the film itself was undeserving of some of the nominations it did receive (using the 70% RT rating as justification, given how it is relatively low for a Best Picture nominee).
Broken Base/Love It or Hate It: This is the case amongst some members of the critical community. The acting and singing have drawn near-universal praise, but there is an active debate over how effective the choices Tom Hooper makes as director are, particularly his heavy use of close-ups. Supporters praise them for enhancing the story's intimacy and giving the cast, particularly Anne Hathaway, a chance to show off some powerful work with their facial expressions. Detractors, on the other hand, find that the close-ups make what should be an epic story feel too small and/or claustrophobic, and that more generally the film suffers from odd pacing and poor storytelling. In a broader sense, the split lies between people who think the performances make the film and people who think that even the performances cannot save the film.
Hugh Jackman's acting in the film has been well received (enough to earn him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination), but the reaction to his singing has been more divisive, particularly his rendition of "Bring Him Home".
Anne Hathaway got the most praise and awards (including an Oscar) for her portrayal of Fantine, who is only in the film for 15 minutes.
As always, Gavroche. The little guy is even more badass in this version.
Again as always, Enjolras. Most people seem to agree that Aaron Tveit has one of the best singing voices of the cast, and some think he should have been cast as Marius instead of Eddie Redmayne.
Several other barricade boys have also gotten a fair amount of fan attention, notably George Blagden (Grantaire), Fra Fee (Courfeyrac), Killian Donnelly (Combeferre), and Alistair Brammer (Jehan).
Again as always, Éponine. Unlike the movie star leads, Samantha Barks was cast because of her experience in the role.
Amanda Seyfried is seen as one of the most likable and fleshed-out musical Cosettes ever, to the point where there was a sharp drop in fandom Cosette hate after the film and the canonical Marius/Cosette finally managed to overtake the longtime Fan-Preferred Couple Marius/Éponine in popularity.
Esoteric Happy Ending: Everybody who lived in misery and/or died horribly are happy, once they are done with being dead.
Hilarious in Hindsight: At the 2011 Oscars, future Fantine Anne Hathaway sang a parody of "On My Own" to playfully curse a certain "Hugh Jackass" (and future Valjean) for bailing out of singing a duet with her. And of course, they did sing together in the 2009 Oscars.
When Tangled came out, Amanda Seyfried was commonly cited as the actress who most matched Rapunzel in real life. Seyfried's first song in this film has her with her hair in a plait, singing about how her life's begun and how she's been kept away from the outside world by her single parent. Her character's bedroom even bears a passing resemblance to Rapunzel's, with a canopy bed and handpainted flowers on the wall.
Ho Yay: Enjolras and Grantaire. It's said in the book that Grantaire never cared about revolution or anything of that sort; he was only there because of how much he admired, loved and venerated Enjolras, which makes their deaths all the more sorrowful. It doesn't help that he spends nearly every scene staring at Enjolras, even when he's talking to someone else. Not to mention that George Blagden has pretty much admitted to intentionally playing Grantaire as in love with Enjolras. They also appear to die holding hands, as in the Brick
To a much lesser degree, Marius and Enjolras. There are also a fair amount of Valjean/Javert shippers, though a lot of it is Played for Laughs.
The live singing itself, especially the more strained or belabored turns by some of the actors, acting more than singing, coupled with the directorial choices mentioned above, like extreme extended close-ups. A case of First Installment Wins (the theater productions) for some.
When Éponine appears, you may find yourself thinking, "Damn, girl! Where'd you get those eyebrows waxed?" Apparently everyone else is so grimy because she's been hoarding the exfoliating cream. Especially notable if you were expecting a version of her that even sort of resembled her description in the book—that is, not remotely what most modern audiences could call attractive, as she’s poor in both money and health.
If you're going to notice Eponine's eyebrows, then what about Marius' inexplicable quiff? He's one of the only characters who has one and it looks rather silly.
As Valjean is trying to take Fantine to the hospital, she raises her fists at him threateningly. It's exactly the same kind of martial arts stance that Anne Hathaway used as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.
Narrowly averted with "I Dreamed a Dream". An alternate take from the trailer had a wider shot with an unfortunate display of Jiggle Physics during the line "In this hell I'm living" which would have completely ruined the otherwise Tear Jerker song. Thankfully, the final cut uses an extreme close-up oner which zooms slowly back into a medium shot.
"The Confrontation" of Valjean and Javert is sung during a distracting sword fight, where Valjean uses a piece of wood.
Valjean wearing an open shirt more befitting a sultry Harlequin Romance character during his big father-daughter bonding scene with Cosette killed the moment for a few people. Not helped at all by Seyfried admitting she and Jackman acted out sexed-up versions of that scene off-camera for fun.
Valjean shouting "One Day More!" while riding a carriage. One would expect the driver to pull over and tell him to leave for distracting him.
The "Who's there?" "FRENCH REVOLUTION!" scene. It's from the book, but still... it seemed like it was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up sounding like the worst knock-knock joke ever.
A student's declaration that "We're the only barricade left!" would probably have had more impact if the audience had ever gotten a chance to see any of the other barricades. Combined with cinematography that makes the barricade in question look comparatively tiny, a moment that ordinarily plays quite dramatically comes across as a bit goofy.
The death of Eponine. While Taking the Bullet is tragic, the way it was handled in the movie was avoidable since the character grabs the muzzle of the gun and points it at themselves instead of simply getting in the way. In fact the character is a Death Seeker but this isn't clear in the musical.
Hugh Jackman belting out "Bring Him Home" at the top of his lungs, until you start expecting the students to shout that they're trying to sleep. Made worse as his performance of the song's reprise at the end is far better and more subtle.
Javert's suicide is a bit undercut by the loud *crack* when he hits the water. As in, the crack of his spine is louder than the rushing river itself. If it's not terrifying or wince inducing, instead.
The final Dream Sequence of a huge barricade manned by a huge crowd including the cast (except villains) — dwarfing the size of the barricade and amount of popular support the students ever had in reality. Can come across as Irony to the cynical (the director has said the film is presented free of irony).
The scene with the giant barricade was originally supposed to have a bit of text in the same way the film's time-skips do that would say that it depicted the successful 1848 revolution. The inclusion of the dead characters was probably a key reason that that bit of info was left out.
Hugh Jackman's makeup in his final scenes. Apparently, losing one's will to live is visually indistinguishable from contracting zombie bites.
Narm Charm: The entire film is sung! Quite a good amount of the reviewers expressed disbelief at that working, though it's not the first musical to do so.
Older Than They Think: Live singing in musical film actually goes back to early talkies, but after lip-syncing came around it was rarely used.
Ships That Pass in the Night: Although they see each twice (and one of those times was when she died and never say a word to each other, the pairing of Enjolras and Eponine has become very popular due to a handful of strategically timed back to back shots of each other, a moment where they actually stand next to each other, a brief notice by Enjolras when Marius leaves the cafe with her, and a shot of him as she dies.
Although really an editing goof, Enjolras appears to pick Eponine up after she dies rather than another character in a split-second shot. Yet, it seems to have added more fuel to the ship.