When people think of Lincoln these days they remember the book and movie about him fighting vampires. Otherwise they think of his murder, or that he simply ended slavery, one thing many people don’t think about or even mention is how great a politician he was. If you plan on seeing Lincoln for epic Civil War battles you will let down. The film opens with a battle but that’s mainly it. The film starts with Lincoln’s second term in office. The war is dying down and Lincoln(Daniel Day-Lewis) suddenly must try and pass an amendment to abolish slavery through a House of Representatives filled with detractors.
This movie is easily the best American political film that has been made in over ten years. We see how Lincoln used operatives to try and talk lame duck Representatives into turning to his side. For Lincoln ending slavery was such an American ideal he was going to use every loop hole in the system to make it happen. The script is beyond impressive, written by Tony Kushner, the film is obviously his baby. A lot of time and heart went into the script and it makes the movie shine with a beautiful light. It’s been a while since a movie has come out where you can see why America is such a beautiful place.
Now when a movie is mainly centered around dialogue it’s key for your actors to bring it. Well no worries there, everyone is at there best here. Sally Field plays Mary Todd and it’s one of her best roles in decades, you can feel her pain in almost every scene. She plays off of Daniel Day Lewis perfectly. We also get a wave of stand out supporting cast- David Strathairn, Jackie Earle Haley, Lee Pace. Other stand outs are Tommy Lee Jones who I thought was done acting after MIB3. Jared Harris plays Ulysses S. Grant to perfection. James Spader really stands out and brings a lot of laughs as well.
Of course Daniel Day Lewis is the real stand out here. His performance seems so personal, which I guess makes sense. He doesn’t play Lincoln as a loud man, he is wrapped in blankets for about one third of the movie. His voice is not booming, mostly smooth and soft until he really needs to be heard. He will obviously be nominated for best actor in every award show this year, he deserves it. I just hope that people don’t over look the performance because many will go “Of course he’ll get nominated for Lincoln” and then think it’s too easy to vote for him. Right now Lewis deserves to win every award possible.
The last piece of course is Spielberg, who in my eyes has recently made a strong and amazing come back. The fourth Indiana Jones was beyond silly and a mess. Since then his movies to me have been classics. War Horse and this are perfect movies in my eyes. He allows the actors here to do their thing, the movie feels like a play in many ways. It’s powerful stuff and if you don’t feel something at the end of this film you need to check your heart.