‘Lincoln’ movie review

'Lincoln' movie review

The film opens with a close and personal scene of Union and Confederate soldiers brutally fighting hand-to-hand in waist high mud. It’s no ‘Saving Private Ryan’ beach storm, and in a way it betrays the rest of the film.

This is very much a study in political maneuvering, a dispelling of historical myths and, mostly, a fascinating character study of Abraham Lincoln.

That said, Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ is about as good as it gets. The plot falls almost entirely within the last two months of the Civil War and the ratification of the 13th amendment, which outlawed slavery. The film focuses on Lincoln and his political genius and maneuvering – something Obama and Boehner could certainly learn from – and how that led to the passing of the revolutionary legislation.

Spielberg’s been keeping himself busy the past couple of years, what with ‘War Horse’ and ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ being Oscar contenders last year. In any case, it’s certainly been a while since the names Spielberg and Oscar were just about synonymous, until ‘Lincoln.’

Unless Peter Jackson pulls out all the stops again with ‘The Hobbit,’ I don’t see how ‘Lincoln’ doesn’t pull in nearly every category. I can give you three shoe-ins right off the bat. Sally Field wins best actress for Mary Todd Lincoln, stealing a number of scenes from Tommy Lee Jones and Daniel Day-Lewis, no easy task.

Jones will take best supporting actor, cast about as perfectly as one can be, playing the steely, witty Representative Stevens who argues as only a Jones character can for the amendment. Day-Lewis steals the show, though, portraying arguably the most famous American ever with an ease and believability that has scarce been seen on the silver screen.

Someone playing Lincoln could easily have gone awry, become almost laughable, but Day-Lewis more than pulls it off. He is unrecognizable as Honest Abe, turning the man into a wise old sage-like character but not without substantial imperfections.

Day-Lewis’s Lincoln is certainly not the saintly honorary founding father that elementary school history lessons would have you believe.

There is something truly special about a film that can make the seemingly mundane extremely interesting. After all, this is a story about passing legislation. There is something even more special about a film in which we already know the ending, and we’re invested in the characters and the outcome more than anything else.

This is what ‘Lincoln’ accomplishes easily. Hands down, this is the best film of the year to date and absolutely worth your attendance.

By Keegan Bockhorst