Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Best Picture Nominee - Lincoln

Lincoln (Photo credit: ehpien)
Here is my review of the first of the 9 Best Picture Nominee's at this years Academy Awards.

Directed by the iconic Steven Spielberg, and following the story behind the passing of legislation ending slavery and ending the civil war. Daniel Day Lewis plays US President Abraham Lincoln, fighting the civil war, a hostile congress, a divided cabinet and facing problems at home.

Sally field is the still grief stricken wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, balancing life as First Lady with her roles as wife and mother. the relationship between the two is tumultuous, a deep routed sense of duty seems to be all important, yet a somewhat subdued love exists between the two. The Republicans in Congress are led by Thaddius Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

This is an epic movie with Spielberg's signature all over it. Its stellar cast performs in a way you would only expect from a group of Oscar winners, and proves that given an excellent scrip, visionary director and superb cinematographer then anything is possible. Day-Lewis is simply mesmerizing as Abe Lincoln, deep routed character, that comes over as a tormented, yet brilliant man, stuck inside his own mind and fighting to achieve everything without giving up an inch. Sally Field also rises to the form that won her 2 previous Oscars as the long suffering yet admirably strong willed First Lady, a performance filled with emotion, you can not help but feel for this woman as the movie goes on, she wants love, needs to grieve and still stand right by her husband in achieving everything he wants to achieve. Other than the performance of Daniel Day Lewis, the stand out performance has to be Tommy Lee Jones, a torn man having to accept what he can achieve, rather than push for what he feels is right and required.

The setting and atmosphere in this movie is second to none, a true epic. The story carries you with it as it goes through the fight to rid America of slavery, the civil war raging and a father wanting to protect his son, but also allow him to live as he chooses. It has a darkness to it that reminds us it's a time most of us can not really appreciate, the noisy Congress scenes portray a time of deep conflict even within the different sides of the civil war.

While we are treated to a host of famous Lincoln quotes, its almost like a peek behind the curtain for the most part. Lincoln is portrayed as a troubled man wanted to do the right thing, the right way, a morally driven man who is fully aware that sometimes the consequences are more important than the actions required to achieve them. The end is  surprisingly moving, very well done and thankfully brief, we all know he gets shot, but the way this movie does it is amazing, focusing on the fact that what the great man achieved far out weighs the somewhat obsession with his death. This is not a movie about the war, nor is it a political movie, it is instead a snapshot into the lives of people managing stress levels that would kill any modern day leader, the drive these people have and how their personal relationships come second to the great they are trying to achieve. It is credit to the acting on show here, and it is such a good movie and a well written story than anyone, even those from far beyond the US can enjoy and delight at.

Lincoln is a return to form for all involved, and considering most of the main cast are well over 50 it shows Hollywood that the craft and experience wielded by the 'older' members of the acting fraternity far our weighs the supposed glamour and beauty of younger people. Spielberg has not lost it, far from it, he needs to grab this spotlight and run with it, he now has the reputation to do great things, it is writers that are failing to produce movies like this, the talent to make them is waiting.

There was always going to be Oscar buzz surrounding this movie, and it deserves every bit of it.
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