“Lincoln” is director Steven Spielberg’s latest historical drama. Clearly this is his area of expertise, because after 2011’s two films (the underwhelming, motion-captured “The Adventures of Tintin” and the overly sentimental “War Horse”), Spielberg has bounced-back with a powerful Oscar winner.
Daniel Day-Lewis deservingly won his third Lead Actor Academy Award for his truly remarkable performance as Abraham Lincoln. “Lincoln” isn’t a biography on our 16th President. Instead, it focuses on a specific period of time – the beginning of the year 1865, which was also the start of Lincoln’s second term in the White House. America is deep into the Civil War. Two years earlier, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves. However, it did not outlaw slavery or make the ex-slaves citizens.
Those desires by Lincoln and his supporters would have to be achieved through the passing of the 13th Amendment. But the President also wanted to end the war as soon as possible. However, if the South surrendered before the vote on the Amendment was taken in the House of Representatives, it would not get enough votes to pass. This conflict is at the core of “Lincoln” and Day-Lewis embodies a leader in constant turmoil over the decisions only he can make.
“Lincoln” has an impressive all-star cast, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln’s eldest son, David Strathairn as Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward, along with Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Lee Pace and Jackie Earle-Haley. But along with Day-Lewis, the other outstanding performances come from: Sally Field who plays Mary Todd Lincoln. It’s a supporting role, but she has
some strong, emotional scenes. And Tommy Lee Jones as Representative
Thaddeus Stevens. In a pretty busy 2012, Jones saved his best for last.
When the first image of Day-Lewis as Honest Abe was released, everyone was stunned at how close the resemblance is. And this continues throughout; often times you believe he IS Lincoln. And that’s when you know that the makeup artist and hairstylist did a good job.
“Lincoln” is dominated by scenes of political strategy and intense dialogue but the movie also features some light humor and an effective, though maybe a little over-the-top score. But you can’t beat John Williams. And Spielberg stages the film masterfully, making some very smart decisions throughout, including the final few minutes. Out of this year’s Best Director Oscar nominations, Spielberg should’ve won.
“Lincoln” is rated PG-13 for some adult language, brief, war violence and disturbing images (but no vampire killing). It’s appropriate for teens and up. It’s a must for students studying this period and everyone else who wants to learn more about a person that we thought we already knew.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Lincoln” gets an A-.
This is an impactful, inspirational film made with care from the first shot to the last. Because, as one character points-out at a key moment, this is history.