★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn. Written by Tony Kushner and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Rather than focus on Abraham Lincoln's entire life story, as many biopics tend to do (and let's face it, that would be one long and drawn-out film), Steven Spielberg instead focuses on the last 100 days of our 16th president's life in his two-and-a-half hour masterpiece, Lincoln.
Daniel Day-Lewis, easily one of his generation's finest character actors, delivers a stunning performance as Lincoln – at times completely convincing the viewer that he is, in fact, Honest Abe and not simply an actor portraying him. From his physical appearance to the very specific tone and voice that he delivers (which apparently is very accurate, according to historians, despite having no recorded audio to go on). Mary Todd-Lincoln (Field) also steals her fair share of scenes in the film, channeling the eccentric First Lady successfully and in grand fashion.
The remainder of the cast literally all deserve the utmost praise, also, for supporting and executing a brilliantly-written screenplay. Under Spielberg's leadership, did anyone expect anything otherwise, though?
One of the biggest and most impressive performances, while we come to expect it from him in all of his movies, was delivered courtesy of Tommy Lee Jones. Sure, he's not always challenged in films like Men in Black or Volcano, but when he delivers (a la No Country for Old Men), he does so in a major way. His depiction of Thaddeus Stevens, no matter if it is historically accurate or not, is so impressive and impactful, it will quite possibly earn him – amongst any of the other cast members truly – a Best Supporting Actor nod come the Oscars this February.
Focusing mainly on Lincoln's attempts to end the Civil War, and how that timeframe and the tumultuous political climate surrounding it conflicted with the proposed 13th Amendment, the film shows far more of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) behind-the-scenes filth that took place politically even back in the 1800s.
Even though, much like Apollo 13, we know how history plays out and exactly how the film will end, Lincoln does a remarkable job of keeping the audience on the edge of its seat.
Movies like Lincoln don't come along often. The Godfather, Saving Private Ryan, A Beautiful Mind – these are all films that have impacted audiences and will, undoubtedly, stand the test of time. Particularly with the rising interest in Lincoln's life as of late (perhaps something to do with our current political climate?), this film couldn't have come at a better time. Nor could it have been created in a more impressive manner.