"The most liberating constitutional amendment in history, passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America."
The part of me that pulls for underdogs wants to dislike the movie Lincoln and those perennial winners Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day Lewis. I want to. But can't do it. I love everything about this film, which maintains a sense of intimacy and human proportion infused with the historical essence of our country and its most beloved president. As I left the theater, I felt like I had personally touched that time in our history and spent time with those who lived it.
It is 1865, and the Civil War continues to ravage both the Union and Confederacy, but the end seems near. Lincoln is caught in a dilemma: The Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves is only in effect under the rules of war. If the conflict ends before the passage of the 13th amendment, the returning Southern states will block it. But if a negotiated peace is delayed, bloodshed will continue. This crisis of conscience and the machinations employed in procuring congressional votes create the axle around which Lincoln turns.
Regarding his leading role, Daniel Day-Lewis reflected, "I never, ever felt that depth of love for another human being that I never met. And that's, I think, probably the effect that Lincoln has on most people that take the time to discover him... I wish he had stayed with me forever." That love for the character is apparent as Day-Lewis portrays Lincoln's humor and vulerability, and even our sixteenth president's ability to be a bad-ass.
Tommy Lee Jones is laugh-out-loud funny as Thaddeus Stevens, and provides regular comic relief. Sally Field—10 years older than Daniel Day Lewis and 20 years older than Mary Todd Lincoln was in 1865—had to beg Spielberg for the screen test with Day-Lewis. Her Best Supporting Actress nod would validate her adamance that she was right for the character.
Lincoln informs and entertains, while plucking at deep chords of emotion. But for Best Picture, my vote still goes to the underdog, Beasts of the Southern Wild.