I realize that’s a powerful statement to lead with, but honestly fans, it sums up the way I feel after having seen this movie. In fact, I’m not even going to build up the justification behind my review first. I’m going to lead with the fact that I really, really, really loved this movie.
Okay, now for the breakdown.
I have to first admit that I just this past year became an Abe Lincoln follower. And yes, it started with a fun little book I read by Seth Grahame Smith that later became a movie that I secretly watched and even more secretly (I guess until now) loved. It sparked my curiosity about the honest and humble sixteenth leader of our country and Lincoln was just a result of natural forward motion on the learning journey.
The difference is that this story was illustrated by Mr. Steven Spielberg and starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones (among many others, including David Strathairn who I swear never gets mentioned but always performs his heart out). I mean, paint a freaking good picture why don’t you?
And first off, DDL could not look anymore like what Lincoln looks like in my head. I mean, I know we know what he looks like because his portrait is forever minted, but still, there were times I really forgot I was watching a fictional recount of history.
There is something you all should understand about this movie. It is absolutely, never in a million years the most entertaining movie you will see. In actuality, or technicality maybe, it’s pretty even-keel, slow and full of long monologues. There are no gory battle scenes. Yet, deep within those long, drawn-out speeches lies such an intensified sense of pride in our country and emotion for our leaders that I have to say it’s one of the most impactful (yes, that’s the word I am deciding to use) things I’ve ever seen. Despite the fact that I know history and knew what would happen on that fateful courtroom day, I was on the edge of my seat, gritting my teeth, clutching my heart and hoping against all hope (and in this case, reality) that we would pass the 13th Amendment.
Credit is certainly due to screenwriter Tony Kushner, but after seeing it, I just don’t think there’s any question to the nods this flick received in the acting categories. DDL basically showed up to the set and showed there’d be no contest come Oscar time. Sally Field stepped up and without a doubt proved she’s still got the edge on these young’uns (i.e. Anne winning the globe over her) and Tommy Lee settled into the grumpiest character you’ve ever loved so much. Without this extraordinary talent, I am sure Spielberg would have delivered something phenomenal, but with them, he delivers an epic.
My advice is that you see this movie asap. Put it at the top of your list, no matter what. And not just because it’s nominated for almost every category that The Academy recognizes, but because it’s that good, that important and that memorable. Make sure you’ve got snacks and that you use the bathroom before you go in, though. I cannot warn you enough that it’s a long movie, that feels exactly like a long movie.
P.S. What is it with the 3-hour movies this year???!!