Posted by Alia Haddad on November 12, 2012 at 12:15 pm
It doesn’t feel like a real holiday season to me without a Steven Spielberg movie. It really was a rough couple of years there, until last holiday season when we got two–War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin. But, here’s the thing: I didn’t see either. I know, I know, but I have a hard time with animated films and/or movies with plots that revolve around a boy’s bond with his horse (I also know that my disdain for male/horse bonds doesn’t make much sense given my penchant for the Western).
So when news broke that Spielberg’s next film would be neither animated nor focused on a horse, and instead would be a biopic on my first beloved president, Abraham Lincoln–Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt are on that list too–I knew I would be seeing this movie. This especially became the case when the rumors proved to be true and Daniel Day-Lewis accepted the title role in Lincoln. Making a movie at a rate of about very two years makes it clear that when Daniel Day-Lewis accepts a role, he’s doing so because he (and usually the film as a whole) is going to be great. I mean, even I can admit that he perfected the male/horse bond in The Last of the Mohicans.
So yes, both the topic and Day-Lewis got me to theater, and boy am I glad they did. Don’t get me wrong, Lincoln wasn’t a flawless movie by any account, but in terms of Spielberg and the epics he has been creating as of late– it proves impossible to separate the movie from his director, and while this is the case with most films, Lincoln was dripping with Spielberg generic traits from start to finish– Lincoln is most definitely one of the better ones, if not his best in ten years.
What made it so good? Well, the cast and the collective acting was outstanding, and I’m not just talking about Daniel Day-Lewis who deserves his fifth Oscar nomination and quite possibly his third win because of this role. Lincoln was filled to the brim with excellent actors– most notably Sally Field, Joseph Cross, James Spader, John Hawkes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the great Tommy Lee Jones– and each was amazing, inhabiting the characters so fluently that I rarely remembered who I was watching. If you have no other reason to see this movie, the acting alone should get you there.
Moreover, its plot remained strong throughout. Clocking in at just under 2 and half hours, Lincoln moved fairly quickly, and not just because I was mesmerized by the fun hats and facial hair. The dialogue was similarly good, and had an Aaron Sorkin-esque quality to it. Is that because Lincoln was quietly snarky while talking about politics? Well, I’m sure that had something to do with it.
The remaining characteristics seemed classic Spielberg– from the music to the cinematography to the ending of the film (we get it, Spielberg, you like candles!). And while these repetitive traits didn’t hinder the movie all that much– except for maybe the ending in which I imagine Spielberg was unsure how to end an epic of such proportions and decided merely to consult the archive of his own films (seriously, what’s with the candles?)– it would have been nice to shake things up a bit.
Other than that, I don’t have too much to complain about. Lincoln proved to be a great film, even if the cast was crucial in making this distinction.