Lincoln was something I was looking forward to seeing for a good long while. Really, though, how can it not get your attention? It’s a biopic on Abraham Lincoln starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and directed by Steven Spielberg. It screamed one of the best movies of the year, and a major Oscar contender (all of those things came true as expected). I was interested in how they were going to tell the story. What story points were going to be focused on? While Lincoln is the focus, it’s not a biography on him by any means. The plot is based off some of the book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. So, the movie deals with the final months of Lincoln’s life. Lincoln has just been re-elected. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued a year ago. The amendment had passed through the Senate, but failed to get ratified by the House of Representatives. However, Lincoln brought it back to vote. Most of the movie deals with him reaching out to the House of Representatives, shedding light on all of his beliefs.
After seeing War Horse, I was craving another Steven Spielberg. It was disappointing, but still had his quality that had me wanting a better helping of it. Glad to report, that the legendary director is back on track with his latest effort. His quality is there, and the pacing is pitch-perfect. I liked the story in general; a few subplots should have taken more of a backseat or been gone. They weren’t bad; I wanted the main story focused on 99% of the time. In the latter part of his career, Spielberg has had a tendency to not go out with a bang. His recent climaxes, while still solid, come off as underwhelming. The closing is crafted well enough, but lacks that “wow” factor that can leave a bigger impression on all aspects as a whole.
The screenplay had mainly positive things, but a few negative elements are still present. Tony Kushner wrote the script – he co-wrote the script for Munich. Tons of dialog drives the movie. That can be risky, if done wrong it can run everything into the ground. Here, you are engaged and interested all the way through for the most part. Listening to the people discuss the issue of the war and slavery is intriguing. At times, though, I felt some ideas/believes are stated over and over again in the same scene. Overall, that’s not a colossus problem. Wasn’t expecting any humor to be found, was pleasantly surprised. Don’t expect something along the lines of a comedy in any sense; just keeps things lively. One of the biggest complements I can give, is I never got bored, or wondered when it was going to wrap up.
Daniel Day-Lewis becomes Abraham Lincoln. This was too expected, but, still, it is so phenomenal. It’s hard to say this is his best because none of his performances are ever bad. You can also say, he’s never been anything expect great. Another extent on that, everything he does is best of the year, and Oscar quality. He’s so fascinating to watch. The character of Lincoln has never been played better; you start to believe that is Lincoln you’re watching. Have to admit, I’m interested in how the role would have shaped out with Liam Neeson at the helm. He bowed out of the role; maybe for the better, but we’ll never know for sure. While, the show is stolen by the lead, countless supporting roles are present that shine in their own right. It sort of is a lot of cameos appearing twice every other scene.
Sally Field does a wonderful job playing Mary Todd Lincoln. I read an article saying she insisted she was the right woman for the role, and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Glad Field got the role, great fit. David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, and John Hawks pop in and out. All of them are excellent – especially Tommy Lee Jones. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, acting wise, is capable of more. I won’t go as far as wasted; still, he’s underused considering what we’ve seen him do in the same year.
The technical aspect of the film was done extremely well. The cinematography is exceptional. It’s done by Spielberg’s longtime cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski. Gorgeous shots capture the time period really well. The costume design boosts that up too. Battle scenes aren’t what the movie is about, but some short battles are shown. When they do come up, they are brutal and convey the Civil War in a great way considering that small amount of time it’s actually showed. You get a sense of how bad it was – this boosted up the story.
Abraham Lincoln: “Do we choose to be born? Or do we fit into the times we were born into (fantastic quote).” If Lincoln was released in 2011, or 2012, it would have been much higher on my best of the year list. 2012 was tough, but it fit into the time none the less, barely caking my top ten.