Part of me wishes that I went out and saw Steven Spielberg’s biopic of Abraham Lincoln before the Oscar nominations were announced and Lincoln became the leading film with 12 nominations, including Best Picture. Whether I wanted to or not, this status was going to affect the way that I viewed the film. Instead of focusing on the entire life of the 16th President of the United States, Lincoln focuses solely on what can be considered Lincoln’s defining moment – his fight with congress to abolish slavery in the United States. As such, the film features much debating on the subject within the House of Representatives. The film also formulates that, even back in the 19th century, politics wasn’t exactly the cleanest of practices and many backdoor dealings were used to ensure votes. I also have to note that, as a Liberal, it is a bit jarring seeing conservative Republicans portrayed as the “good guys” of the film and how the Democrats of the time wanted slavery to remain.
As for Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln, I would say that he came off as a humble, yet larger than life man. There are many time throughout the film when Lincoln will start telling a long story, in order to make a point. This made him seem like someone of divine stature, who was constantly preaching to his fellow man (not unlike Jesus). It is definitely the type of portrayal that is meant to tug on the heartstrings of the Americans watching the film. Another standout performance in the film is Tommy Lee Jones as Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens, who was deeply devoted to the fight against slavery for more than just political reasons. The film also feature a very large supporting cast of recognizable faces, including Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Jackie Earle Haley, Tim Blake Nelson, Jared Harris, Lee Pace, and Michael Stuhlbarg. I do somewhat agree with a common criticism surrounding the film, in which the film progresses past, what seems to be, a natural ending point in order to show an epilogue of sorts dealing with Lincoln’s assassination and subsequent flashback to the Gettysburg Address. While those moments are definitely the other defining moments of Lincoln’s life, they did seem a little bit tacked on. In the end, I would say that I overall liked Lincoln. There are some aspect of the film that supports its Oscar prospects, while other aspects, such as the goofy comic-relief of the backdoor politicking, had me questioning this somewhat. While it still remains to be seen if the Academy will choose Lincoln for Best Picture, if the decision were up to me, I would say that Lincoln was a decent film, but not good enough for the top prize.8 | LIKED IT