Reviews of Movies, TV shows & metro Detroit Restaurants

Short movie & TV show reviews and metro Detroit restaurant reviews

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Movie Review: "Lincoln" (2012)

I like history & I especially like Civil War history, so the fact that I believe "Lincoln" is an excellent movie is not a surprise. I found it to be a riveting, thoughtful, classy movie filled with amazing acting performances and incredibly well made. I think Stephen Spielberg has snagged his next Best Picture & Best Director awards. And Daniel Day Lewis seems to be a shoe-in to win Best Actor for his incredible portrayal of Abraham Lincoln circa 1865. Was he visited by Lincoln in his dreams or something? I truly believe that is how our 16th president acted & carried himself.

Let me talk just a bit about the acting & casting. First the casting...

As I was watching "Lincoln" I recognized so many wonderful actors' faces (other than the obvious...Lewis, Sally Field as Mary Lincoln & Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens). This says 2 things to me: (1) I watch a lot of movies & TV shows, but that's obvious since I have a blog dedicated to both genres and (2) Spielberg & his head of Casting Avy Kaufman did an amazing job securing some kick-ass talent. If you know anything about movies and/or TV shows, you will know who these people are. And they all give great performances in this powerful movie, whether they are on screen for 60 minutes or even just 60 seconds.

In no particular order, check out this list (I've added my thoughts for a few): David Strathairn (gives yet another amazing performance as William Seward), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Robert Lincoln), James Spader (plays W.N. Bilbo perfectly), Hal Holbrook (Preston Blair), John Hawkes (Robert Latham), Jackie Earle Haley (Alexander Stephens), Bruce McGill (Edwin Stanton), Jared Harris (wow this "Fringe" & "Mad Men" alum completely transformed himself to portray Ulysses S. Grant...his thick London accent is nowhere to be found!), Walton Goggins (this "Justified" & "The Shield" alum plays Congressman Clay Hutchins), 
Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein from "Boardwalk Empire" plays Congressman George Yeaman),  Gregory Itzin (I had no idea this was the evil president from "24" playing Judge John A. Campbell until I looked up the cast on IMDb!) and Adam Driver (the goofy, quirky kid from "Girls" plays Samuel Beckwith the telegraph operator!). Wow...what a cast!

The most notable (a.k.a, Oscar-worthy) performances are given by Field who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln with such grace & believability, Jones who channels all of his crustiness & fire-brandness to play Thaddeus Stevens, Strathairn who demonstrates just how damn good of an actor he really is as William Seward and of course, Lewis' performance as Lincoln himself. I find it amazing that an actor can transform himself so believably into an icon of American history...Lewis is one of the greatest actors of our time. He brings out Lincoln's intensity, humor & wit and genuineness perfectly. I will be shocked if he doesn't nab his 3 Oscar...

I like how Spielberg didn't make this a Lincoln biography. I don't know how you could do that with a man steeped in so much history and legend. I like the approach of making this movie about his last days in office prior to his assassination and making the core story the fight to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This moment in time was such an important time in our nation's history and Spielberg's depiction of it was spot on with just the right amount of detail. By narrowing in on this timeframe, Spielberg is really able to delve into the man that Lincoln was.

As I've touched on, this movie starts at the beginning of 1865 and the end of the war is in sight. But Lincoln needs something to push it over the edge. He believes that passing the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery is the way to do that. So he puts all of his effort into it & uses all of his powers (political or otherwise) to work in order to do so. At times, this fight is even comical. It's an intriguing journey, one that I knew almost nothing about. The end of the movie feels more like an epilogue to that journey as it swiftly portrays the end of the war & Lincoln's assassination.

I think I've rambled enough! "Lincoln" is a great movie & one of the best of 2012...9.0/10 stars