“Lincoln” has been one of the year’s most anticipated films and generated Oscar buzz before the first trailer even showed the face of a remarkably lifelike Abraham Lincoln, played by the always great Daniel Day-Lewis. This incredibly crafted and detailed film is about Lincoln’s struggle during his presidency of trying to end the American Civil War all the while trying to pass the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery. “Lincoln” truly demonstrates the greatness and expertise of all the wonderful names involved in the production of this extraordinary film.
This film is not about the battles or a biopic about Lincoln, but more about the political bickering, struggles and compromises that were needed in order to pass the 13th Amendment. “Lincoln” shows us how the president went about procuring the necessary votes to pass a highly debated amendment. We learn about secrets, political collisions and the journey to the ending of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery.
The fantastic screenplay is written by Tony Kushner, who won an Oscar for “Best Screenplay” in 2005 for “Munich.” He captures the essence of Lincoln’s character and struggles during the final months of his presidency. He is able to give incredibly moving and inspirational dialogue that will resonate with audiences not only through a historical aspect, but also one that will have audiences applying it to today’s politics. The story is very well put together and extremely detailed. Kushner has done an almost flawless job on the story and has been able to contextualize Lincoln for audiences and has created a depiction that audiences can finally connect with.
Arguably the greatest director in the history of film, Steven Spielberg orchestrates a vivid and tangible telling of Lincoln’s difficult pursuit of abolishing slavery because of political collision with his desire to stop the bloodshed between the Union and Confederate armies. Spielberg richly details the backroom dealings of Lincoln and his cabinet and how he finessed his way into convincing Congress to pass the 13th Amendment. What makes “Lincoln” so special is how authentic it feels and looks. Spielberg is able to use his beautiful sets and deliver the audience back in time to the days of the 1860s. He is able to give us the greatest insight of who Lincoln was and how incredible, powerful and wise he really was.
Spielberg’s stellar depiction of Lincoln is mystifyingly played by Day-Lewis. Day-Lewis is given huge scenes and an enormous amount of dialogue, which he executes flawlessly. His likeness of Lincoln is very uncanny, but so is his delivery of dialogue and overall embodiment of “Lincoln.” His character is so believable that you’ll nearly be convinced that it is really Honest Abe right on screen, which makes “Lincoln” a special movie-going experience. Day-Lewis depicts a soft-spoken, hunched and tired Lincoln, while simultaneously showing us the wisdom and brilliance Lincoln had. The storytelling and anecdotes that he delivers makes it feel like you are young again, listening to your grandfather tell a story. Truly one of the greatest actors ever, Day-Lewis has a lock on a “Best Actor” nomination and his outstanding performance is one that rivals Colin Firth’s brilliant portrayal of King George VI in “The King’s Speech” just two years ago.
Supporting Day-Lewis is Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, as well as Tommy Lee Jones as radical abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. Field does a great job in displaying the first lady’s intensity as well as her turbulent behavior. The only quip with Field in this film is that she is about 20 years older than Mary Todd Lincoln was supposed to be and even though many older actors have tried to portray younger actors, Field is unable to hide the fact that she looks out of place. Nevertheless, Field does give a great and, more importantly, a convincing portrayal of the first lady.
Jones’ portrayal of Stevens is remarkable. The very aged and wrinkly Jones steals many of the scenes by his depiction of the most powerful abolitionist in the White House. Jones delivers some stellar and convincing dialogue and is able to make a few laughs with his quick thinking and funny rebuttals and remarks. This movie is supported by a great number of big-name actors who show up in supporting roles. They are able to add to the brilliancy of the cast and make it so the film does not falter when Day-Lewis is not on screen.
The masterful and legendary John Williams composed the score for “Lincoln”. The score is grand and is usually placed in the middle of powerful conversation so Spielberg can convey more intense emotions. This score is light and gentle for some of the pieces, but it’s balanced by military-style pieces featuring cadences and drumming. This score is most similar to his “Saving Private Ryan” soundtrack because of the slow moving pace, solos and hymns he has incorporated. Williams will most likely be nominated for his 48th Oscar, an amazing feat that has only been eclipsed by Walt Disney.
“Lincoln” is a beautiful, award-winning and historic film in all aspects. This film has everything going for it. The screenplay is superb, the acting is tremendous and the direction is impeccable. “Lincoln” will undoubtedly receive a very high number of Oscar nominations and it will certainly be in the running to win many of them. It could be a big sweep for “Lincoln” at the Oscars, but the two awards that are almost guaranteed to go to “Lincoln” at the Oscars are “Best Actor” and “Best Screenplay” for Day-Lewis and Kushner, respectively.
Ryan Sacco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.