The movie version of 'Rent' was really well done. This was probably due to the fact that almost the entire Broadway cast came back to do the film. (Exceptions: the fantastic Tracie Thoms was a step up from Fredi Walker as Joanne, and Rosario Dawson replaced Daphne Rubin-Vega as Mimi and did an admirable job). At any rate, Jesse L. Martin, who originated the role of (Tom) Collins, takes the primary lead on this song, which, for me, perfectly captures the hope and hopelessness combined in the first act.
Of course, if I am going to talk about the 1st act of Rent, I need to also share the song that opens Act 2 and captures the feeling of the act to come. Jesse L. Martin and Tracie Thoms - who proves she's got pipes! - take lead roles in this song.
By the way, I love how the movie handles this song - just like it is handled on stage. Perfect. Spot on.