There is no better way to kick off this final week leading up to the Oscars than with a film that incorporates everything you want from a potential Best Picture winner. And to do it around President’s Day, a holiday that celebrates all presidents’ past and present is that much more special to me. “Lincoln” may not be the year’s highest grossing film or most popular film, but it was the ‘best’ picture I saw. And notice, I didn’t say it was my ‘favorite’ film of the year as I would have to yield to a couple other choices there, but it was the one with the highest quality and for this ceremony, that should be enough. Problem though, it isn’t, leading me to come up with all these reasons why it won’t win ‘Best Picture’ six days from now. Sure, the Academy might surprise me given what’s transpired at the award ceremonies leading up to this one, but I doubt it. I mean, outside a litany of awards from critics’ across the country, this film has not won all that much, making me think it will be a lot of the same come Oscar night despite its 12 nominations. Strange to think a film that critics like is not a favorite to win ‘Best Picture,’ but that’s precisely the case when you look back at the history of this ceremony.
There’s no doubt when you here Steven Spielberg’s name, though, you take notice. That’s out of respect for a man who has brought Hollywood so much in the past 40 years. What a talent and truly one of kind in his craft, which was once again on display with “Lincoln.” Especially with how well he made the film look, with natural lighting and set design, helping to set the mood supporting the nominations for ‘Best Cinematography’ and ‘Best Production Design.’ And being a fan of the great president, Spielberg chose to take a small excerpt from the president’s history and focus in on it. Now, that’s not a new idea, but making it one that you can watch without falling asleep is when you consider all the history in it. That’s the key and to me, Spielberg made sure he focused all his efforts on the man that was Lincoln and everything that created the legacy we know today. Sure, it only covered a 4-month period, but what a four months to cover when you figure all that happened. That’s the brilliance Spielberg, the director, can bring and if he wins it would only be his third Oscar, previously winning for “Schindler’s List” (1993) and “Saving Private Ryan” (1998). And given how long it took him to get here, having started this journey to bring “Lincoln” to the big screen some 12 years ago, this Oscar might be Spielberg’s most cherished when it’s all said and done.
Probably the one fact about “Lincoln” that will surprise some people is how much it earned at the box office. Usually, any nominee for ‘Best Picture’ is way down in the earnings column, but not this one, as it pulled in a hefty $221 million in just over 90 days. That means it holds the distinction of being the highest grossing and most nominated ‘Best Picture’ nominee this year. Last time that happened, we were watching Brad Pitt and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” win just 3 of 13 possible Oscar’s. The measly three statuette’s it won, you ask? Well, in no particular order, they were for “Best Art Direction,’ ‘Best Makeup’ and ‘Best Visual Effects,’ which while all deserved should have been the anecdote to much bigger awards that year. Can you say déjà vu? I can and will almost guarantee it based on what I have seen transpire so far this award season among all the Best Picture nominees. With that said, an Oscar is an Oscar and I think for “Lincoln,” it will go home with a few, like the one for ‘Best Original Score.’ Anytime John Williams is in the mix, he is a threat, having been nominated a staggering 48 times, winning 5. That’s second to only Walt Disney, who was nominated 59 times, winning 22. That’s some company to be in and why he could easily walk away with number six on Sunday.
With 12 nominations, there is bound to be a few nods for acting which for this film all center around one performance. And what’s so amazing is how I can’t imagine anyone else playing Lincoln the way Daniel Day-Lewis did. For those that don’t know, this guy immerses himself into a role more than any other actor in the history of cinema, making it hard to pick against him in a forum such as this. Anyone that does should get their head examined as I was absolutely drawn into everything Lincoln. Sure, some of that was Tony Kushner’s Oscar-nominated script, but I doubt it would have stuck as much without Daniel Day-Lewis and his unwavering resolve. I mean, I thought he would be nominated based solely off the trailer, so to then see the full package on display and still have your expectations blown to hell just about says it all. But he wasn’t alone as he had some infallible talent like Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones supporting him. Both stood out of this supporting cast, each earning Oscar nominations at the tender age of 66. Now there’s a story to remember, one that I hope is not over for them when the envelope is opened next Sunday night.
To read the full review on “Lincoln,” click here
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