With rave reviews from the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Time Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Roger Ebert and many more, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln has got the reviews it needed to launch it closer to those Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. The reviews have labelled the film everything from a “masterpiece” to “a towering achievement”, earning Spielberg some of his best reviews in a decade, despite the strong critical showing of Munich (2005).
The film, though always a contender needed strong reviews to push it closer to the win, and now with those, Lincoln could arguably be the leading contender for the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay Adaptation, and possible Best Supporting Actress. If the Academy responds with a love in for the film, which is not out of the question, Tommy Lee Jones could take Best Supporting Actor, giving the film six of the seven major awards, in addition to the technical awards the film could also win.
Understand I am not saying the film will win, though I have predicted it would all year, just that is a greater possibility now that it could than there ever has been. Spielberg films do well at the Oscars with strong reviews, except in the face of a biography in which the Academy chose to honor the man rather than film, which was old-fashioned at best, Gandhi (1982) which bested E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982). Schindler’s List (1993) swept the awards in 1993, winning everything, while Saving Private Ryan (1998) won both critics groups in LA and NY, along with the Golden Globe before famously losing the Oscar to Shakespeare in Love (1998).
Lincoln is many things as I outlined in my review, but not entirely a biography. The events in the film focus on a very small part of Lincoln’s life and are less about the man than the nation. What I admire about the film is how Spielberg allows his direction to evolve, to take a back seat to the actors, to the characters, something he did so brilliantly with Schindler’s List (1993).Though the film opens with gritty scenes of war, the directors steps back to allow the actors to carry the film with Kushner’s superb screenplay giving them a light to guide them.
With Daniel Day-Lewis’ commanding performance as LIncoln, he builds his film around that extraordinary achievement. I left the theater believing I had seen the living, breathing Lincoln. What I found equally fine was the work of Sally Field as his wife, Mary Todd, who was very much the strength behind the man. Understanding his sadness, his melancholy, she knows how the people love him, and how he feels the pain of the nation divided as he loves America so much. How interesting that Lincoln came to personify all that is good about America, all that is expected and wanted of the President.
LIncoln is a remarkable achievement, an American masterpiece to be sure, and could with the attention now coming to it become the film that stands tall come Oscar time. Will the Academy be cautious to give Day-Lewis and Spielberg a third Oscar each? Why should they if the deserve it? John Ford won four as Best Director and Katherine Hepburn took four as Best Actress. God, if Steven Spielberg deserves a third Best Director award, give it to him, he has earned it. If Day-Lewis, called the greatest living actor by Time Magazine is worthy of a third Best Actor award, give it to him…he too has earned it. There are a few films left to come out but at this writing, for me, it’s Lincoln.