Released October eighth last year, Lincoln hit theaters with a bang, grossing over $180 million thus far. Steven Spielberg’s latest film has wowed crowds all over. Adapted from the novel Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearn Goodwin, we follow Abraham Lincoln during the last few months of his life. With an all-star cast of Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Sally Field, the story of our nation’s tallest president is told.
The film takes place over a span of four months, from January first 1865 up to Lincoln’s assassination that April. Revolving around the struggle to pass the thirteenth amendment, we learn in detail how much really goes into passing a law. In the 1860s, one could not simply send a tweet to get information across the country. Simple tasks such as communicating information were much more tedious, and Lincoln does an excellent job emphasizing this. Audiences also see Honest Abe struggle on a more personal level with his family, as his son (Gordon-Levitt) looks to enlist in the army and creates a stressful environment for the president and his wife (Field). One can feel how intense times were for the Lincoln family through excellent performances.
Lincoln leads the Academy Awards in nominations in the following categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Day-Lewis), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jones), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Field), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score (by none other than John Williams), Best Sound Mixing, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design AND Best Film Editing. With twelve nominations, Lincoln has a sure-fire chance of taking home some-if not all-the Oscars. Previous accolades include that of the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild giving Day-Lewis the award for Best Actor in a drama.
If Lincoln takes home the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, it will be the first time in Oscar history that a film about a United States president wins in such a category.
Things are looking on the up-and-up for the Brit playing the most-portrayed American president on screen (Abe has become quite the celebrity, appearing in over two hundred films). Daniel Day-Lewis gives a captivating performance as the sixteenth president. His portrayal of the charismatic leader is well-deserving of his Oscar nomination. His physical likeness to the president is uncanny as well; you could slap his face on a five-dollar bill from a screenshot in this movie and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. His mannerisms give audiences more insight to what his personality was like, on both a presidential/professional level, along with a personal one. Day-Lewis enjoyed his time on set as Abraham Lincoln and said “I never, ever felt that depth of love for another human being that I never met. And that's, I think, probably the effect that Lincoln has on most people that take the time to discover him... I wish he had stayed [with me] forever." Such dedication is the epitome of an ideal actor.
Producer Kathleen Kennedy most accurately describes his method-acting: “he is very much deeply invested and immersed throughout the day when he's in character, but he's very accessible at the end of the day, once he can step outside of it and not feel that – I mean, he's given huge scenes with massive amounts of dialogue and he needs to stay in character, it's a very, very performance-driven movie.” Kennedy said that you “get chills thinking that Lincoln is sitting right there in front of you.” I felt that way from watching Day-Lewis on the silver screen, let alone being in his presence.
The make-up department and the costuming for this film was fabulous in transforming the entire cast back to Civil War America. Soldiers dressed in Confederate and Union uniform were especially excellent. The story of the film is pretty historically accurate. One would hope for such an outcome, considering Spielberg spent twelve years researching for this film. Upon doing research on little nuances, such as little stories Lincoln told and how everything unfolded leading up to the emancipation, I was pleased that most of my results were up to par. Spielberg was pretty thorough in recreating sets. He made sure when recreating Lincoln’s office that everything was perfect. In fact, he even placed some of Lincoln’s actual books on the shelves and decorated with his wallpaper. However, I was surprised that there was no mention or portrayal of vice president Andrew Johnson, who would succeed Lincoln after his death. It will definitely leave audiences wanting to learn more about Lincoln, as I plan on reading more about the president and his career in due time.
Lincoln was probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. It was incredibly historically accurate. Though a bit lengthy and seemed to drag on at points, it packs in lots of detail. Without out it, the movie would have been shorter, and probably not as good. It really showed how getting the Emancipation Proclamation was a long struggle and didn’t exactly happen overnight. I felt completely immersed into everything that was happening. With Lincoln, I have a newfound appreciation for escapism, what film was originally all about. To take one away from reality was film’s original purpose; Lincoln is for anyone who adores the sixteenth president and is looking for a trip back in time in the comfort of your local movie theater.
As for who is going to take home the Academy Award for best picture, I would say it’s anyone’s award thus far. From what I have seen, all films are deserving of this prestigious award and may the best motion picture win.