It is not surprising that Daniel Day-Lewis won the Golden Globe and SAG awards for best actor. And I wouldn’t be too surprised if he also won an Oscar for his outstanding portrayal of Abraham Lincoln. He doesn’t just look like Lincoln; he immerses himself and becomes Lincoln. He dominates every scene of the film, displaying the many aspects of the former president’s character. While the folksy storytelling provides the humor, the cagey politicking demonstrates a different aspect of the former president, one not usually portrayed in films.
Director Steven Spielberg confined the main story to a one-month period: January 1865, the beginning of Lincoln’s second term. He wants the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery, passed in the House of Representatives, and he wants it passed right away. An ambitious plan, Lincoln refuses to be deterred by advisors who deem it impossible given the current makeup of the house.
Most of the scenes in the movie involve politicians sitting or standing in rooms while arguing. While some of these scenes were necessary to demonstrate the process, I felt there were too many of them. I would have preferred more scenes of Lincoln with his wife (Sally Field) and oldest son (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
The stellar cast also included Tommy Lee Jones as visionary Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. Another Oscar-worthy performance. In her supporting role, Sally Field delivered an outstanding performance as the volatile Mary Todd Lincoln.