Finally, I have found some time for myself to go catch the front-runner in the Oscar race: Lincoln. I’ll be frank, I’m not the most keen to endure long, dry, historical films, but since it’s been the head of so much positive hype I figured I’d hop on that wagon, expecting a load of the most Spielbergiest something yet. And it was. I’m not saying that I’m not a Spielberg fan, but I feel with his films you kind of know what to expect after a while. Which totally doesn’t mean that it wasn’t good.
Lincoln takes place during a pivotal moment in Abe’s career: the signing of the Thirteenth Amendment and the end of the Civil War. Not necessarily in that order. The film also splits this time between the politics of the signing, and the impact on Lincoln’s family.
Personally, I found all the political jib-jab, dirty tricks and mudslinging a tad exhausting – however when it came to portraying Lincoln the father, that’s what got me hooked into the story. Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal is not that of a man who sees himself as the ultimate power, but a man with many responsibilities, which he handles with humor and believability. Like many other roles, Lewis has completely immersed himself. Okay, I’d say he’ll probably win this one again.
In fact, the performances drive this film more than any other aspect (okay, maybe general mise en scene stuff – it’s all very pretty). I think it’s fair that the supporting cast has earned their noms, and it was also impressed by the amount of people who showed up in this film – for instance, the character of W.N. Bilbo –
– that’s James Spader. I totally didn’t know that. Now I can see it, but during the film I was trying to figure out if that was John DiMaggio – but I digress. Overall, Lincoln gives us a great story about humanity during wartime, even at a time when it was brother pitted against brother – and it shows us some of the brutality of such warfare when we’re not forced through what feels like hours of angry debate. So yeah, it was a bit too long (or at least felt that way), but it was really the ending that threw me for a loop.
Sorry, some minor spoilers – I mean, in case you didn’t know that he dies, there’s some more stuff at the end.
Ah yes, the ending…there has been some debate as to whether or not the film should have ended sooner. I think it should have, but not totally before his death. In fact, I rather liked that scene where his son and compatriots are surrounding his body. There was a great solemn quality to the moment that I felt really cemented the concept that Lincoln was simply a man with vision – especially when it was followed by little Tad Lincoln just hearing that his father was shot. There was power in that sequence. It was the cheesy dissolve that killed it for me. I understand Lincoln’s passion and legacy shines as an eternal flame – you didn’t have to cross-dissolve the candle in his room with his second inaugural speech. That’s called overkill, Steve. Stop doing that.
Like I said, if perhaps it was a half hour shorter and ended sooner, this film would be perfect. Sadly, I have not seen any other Best Picture nominees apart from Django Unchained, Les Miserables, and Beasts of the Southern Wild, so I am by no means suggesting that I’ll be calling it this year. That being said, it’s really anyone’s game – but if Lincoln takes it, I really wouldn’t be surprised.
Final Grade: A-