Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln had been the director’s passion project for the past three or four years. At one time, Liam Neeson was all set to portray our 16th President.
With all due respect to a fine actor like Neeson and also to the late, great Henry Fonda (he played a young Abe in 1939), from here on out, when we think of Abraham Lincoln, it will be Daniel Day-Lewis’ interpretation. He doesn’t just become Lincoln, he is Lincoln.
Before I continue my review, lets grab our Stove Pipe Top Hat and see which trailers should secede from our theaters.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO LINCOLN:
Oz: The Great & Powerful – The more I see this trailer, the more it grows on me. If it sticks to a darker tone, this could be one of 2013′s most interesting movies. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Lone Ranger – I know the film went way over budget, but judging from this trailer it appears to be worth every penny. Armie Hammer should make for a fine Ranger and Johnny Depp dressing up as Tonto should be worth the price of admission. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Zero Dark Thirty – Director Kathryn Bigelow could have another Oscar winner on her hands. We already know the ending of this tale, but it looks like will still be suspenseful. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Gangster Squad – Sean Penn will do for Mickey Cohen what Robert DeNiro did for Al Capone. A notorious gangster will become a scene stealer. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Les Miserables – This is a new trailer for this heavily promoted Oscar contender. It looks like a real powerhouse and it wouldn’t shock me if it ends up winning Best Picture. Now all that needs to happen is for it to live up to the hype. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Stand Up Guys – Looks like the best performance from Al Pacino since…wow, it’s been awhile. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
This film could have easily been called Team Of Rivals (it’s based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s novel) or The 13th Amendment. Lincoln is not a biopic, it’s about a moment in time. A monumental historic moment, overseen by a leader meant for greatness. As the Civil War continues to rage, Abe Lincoln struggles deeply with the continuing carnage on the battlefield while he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to end slavery, by pushing the 13th Amendment through Congress. Does he end the war now and lose out on the amendment forever? Or continue the bloodshed in order to end the horror of slavery? It’s not easy being Prez.
This is a “talkie” movie at it’s finest. We all know the end result, but most of us have no clue how the slaves were emancipated. This film documents the struggles of the entire process. It’s frustrating and exhilarating to witness this slow moving period in our history. Abe Lincoln not only has to deal with a civil war, the amendment, political rivals, but also a dysfunctional family. The egos he has to massage, the political maneuvers and the backroom deals he has to make in order to accomplish his goal, are nothing short of extraordinary.
Speaking of extraordinary, Spielberg has a picture-perfect cast surrounding the great Day-Lewis. Sally Field gives real depth to the complicated Mary Todd Lincoln and Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines as their eldest son. This film provides us with a who’s who of terrific character actors. Hal Holbrook, David Strathairn, James Spader, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, Tim Blake Nelson, Gloria Reuben, Walton Goggins and Michael Stuhlberg. But none of these great supporting turns can even come close to the perfection of Tommy Lee Jones’ portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens. He brings both great passion and humor to the man who became Lincoln’s greatest ally in the fight to end slavery.
This brings us to Daniel Day-Lewis. We know what Abe Lincoln looks like, but DDL has now given him a voice and body language. He is the last of the method actors and no one prepares longer and harder for a role. Whether he’s telling a joke (who knew Abe could be so funny?) or pounding his fist in frustration, his Lincoln is more human than heroic. Yet, with Spielberg’s gifted direction and DDL’s tremendous acting, we get both human and heroic at the same time. Daniel Day-Lewis isn’t just the best actor in the business right now, he is the best actor in the history of cinema.
Lincoln is Steven Spielberg’s best film since Saving Private Ryan. It’s also an important film that every citizen of this nation should see. If a Best Picture winner must be an epic on a grand scale or have a subject matter of great importance, then Lincoln might very well be the Best Picture of 2012.
I give LINCOLN **** out of ****.