Any film that is given 12 Academy Award nominations deserves a serious amount of attention. Especially when a film like “Lincoln” (2012) earns nominations in the biggest and most prestigious categories, like Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field). And then there are the usual nominations for Spielberg’s group of longtime associates that have come back year after year to work on his films. People like Janusz Kaminsji (Cinematography) who fully understands how a Spielberg film should look, and has come to make his skills and talents appear simple, and Michael Kahn (Film Editing) who has worked on more Spielberg films than one would imagine. In fact, Spielberg and his close knit team of artists have created such pristine films together for such a long time that we, as a film going community, have begun to take them all for granted.
By now, the name Steven Spielberg means something to everyone. His films have become iconic and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. So when you are such a marvelous director, with more accolades than can be counted, how do you continue to keep things feeling new and fresh? The truth is, I have no idea, but Spielberg has managed to regularly make films that are both critical acclaimed and entertaining to everyone who sees them. “Lincoln” has the normal Spielberg touches that we have come to expect, like John Williams’ soothing (and somewhat familiar sounding) score, and the slow moving shots that come up behind the characters back to slowly reveal their profile in the perfect moment and lighting. But in addition to all the usual Spielberg delights, “Lincoln” is now unquestionably the best acted of all his films. Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field headline an all star cast who collectively keep the film going without any delays or slow points, despite the lack of action. in many ways, “Lincoln” has some resemblances to a former Spielberg film, “Amistad” (1997). Unlike “Amistad”, this film continues to entertain, even with the lengthy dialogue because of the high quality in the acting.
Although the film is called “Lincoln”, and one might expect a film about the 16th President’s life, most of the plot takes place during January, 1865. President Lincoln is attempting to get the 13th Amendment passed in the United Stated House of Representatives, but he is also trying to bring the Civil War to a close as fast as possible, and he doesn’t know if he can accomplish both of these monumental tasks. When walking into the film, and from knowledge of Spielberg’s previous films, one might be expecting more battle sequences, but with the exception of a few brief (and somewhat superfluous) minutes at the start of the film, “Lincoln” is a straight laced drama.
Anyone who has seen previews for “Lincoln” already has some expectation for the film in mind. “Lincoln” fully meets all expectations, and because of the phenomenal cast, it even exceeds in the acting department. Daniel Day-Lewis proves once again why he is one of the greatest actors of his generation, but now he has propelled himself into the category of all time greatest actors. His ability to become his character is something that he has perfected in a way that must make other actors jealous. Every actor from this point on who attempts to portray Abraham Lincoln will always be measured next to Daniel Day-Lewis, and what is now the greatest performance of his career. His chances of winning another Academy Award for his acting seem likely at this point, but then the Academy seems to be peculiar about some things. (See “Can Daniel Day-Lewis Accomplish What Seems Impossible?” for more information.)
In a similar spirit to Day-Lewis, the supporting roles in the film are career defining roles. Since Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field are already brilliant actors with long and glorious careers, this film only helps to enhance their legacy. Sally Field give a stunning performance as Mary Todd Lincoln, and she reaches a depth in her acting, the likes of which was haven’t seen in twenty years. The pain and emotion in her eyes is enough to show how seriously she took this role and film.
Tommy Lee Jones has one of those roles that seem to be tailor made for his personality. His character is as serious as they come, but because of his brash humor and boisterous bravado, he becomes extremely likeable and highly memorable. (Even with that toupee.)
To say that “Lincoln” is anything other than a brilliant film would be a lie. This film delivers on every level and has already proven to be one of Spielberg’s best made films. The remaining questions that surround “Lincoln” have to do with how audiences (and voters) will receive it this year. Steve Spielberg consistently has his films nominated for Best Picture; in fact “Lincoln” is his tenth directorial effort nominated for Best Picture, but his only victory came with “Schindler’s List” (1993). Only time will tell if “Lincoln” will elevate Spielberg to the status he has already obtained in our hearts.Back to Home for More Reviews