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“Masterpiece,” Declares the New York Times as Lincoln Enters the Race with the Best Reviews of the Year

Because movies are mostly disappointing these days you sometimes forget why there are film critics at all, until a movie like Lincoln comes along. It takes awareness of both history and film history to appreciate Lincoln. It takes an attention span and a curiosity about life in general, politics, American history. If none of that works for you, you must know enough about acting, writing and directing to recognize greatness when it comes along.  Most of us have grown up with Steven Spielberg. While he’s out there hunting down projects, making films and waiting for the reaction from the public and critics, we sit back and judge him to our liking. We take a gifted filmmaker like him for granted because he has such a high delivery rate. But just as Lincoln is a moment to stand back and behold just how gifted Spielberg really is, so it is a time to appreciate those writers out there who are enriching film criticism. It is almost as enriching an experience reading these reviews as it is watching the film. I’ve excerpted them here, but you would do well to go back and read all of them.

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir:

Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” has a lot to live up to, even when you get past the fact that its subject is the greatest of all American presidents and one of history’s most mythologized characters. Its cast members have won at least five Oscars, with two apiece belonging to the odd but compelling duo at the center of the story, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, his tormented and demanding co-strategist and life partner. The two best-known previous films about our 16th president were made by D.W. Griffith and John Ford, who represent exactly the kind of classic American cinema against which Spielberg measures himself.

Then there’s the question of Spielberg’s up-and-down directing career, which includes three Oscars of his own, several of the biggest hits in movie history and a marked propensity for sentimental overreach when he tries to tackle serious drama. (I remain somewhat willing to defend both “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List,” for example, but both are great in parts rather than great as a whole.) Expectations for “Lincoln” could not possibly have been higher, and I’m inclined to think that Spielberg’s biggest challenge in making it lay in overcoming his own worst impulses, in avoiding sweeping oratory, montages of Civil War dead and a slow-motion assassination scene in Ford’s Theatre, all set to a keening John Williams violin score. (“Lincoln” does in fact have a score by Williams, but it’s effective and rarely obtrusive.)

I wanted to take a moment to honor Spielberg’s accomplishment here because it would be easy to overlook it. You don’t think about the way “Lincoln” is directed while you’re watching it, mostly because you’re working through the bristly, challenging language of Kushner’s screenplay, or caught up in Day-Lewis’ portrayal of a dry, angular prairie lawyer, prone to long-winded and semi-relevant anecdotes, who finds himself in the White House at a crucial turning point in the nation’s history. You’ll certainly notice Janusz Kaminski’s gorgeous, subdued camerawork, along with Rick Carter’s production design, which captures the muddy streets and rough-hewn, horizontal landscape of 1860s Washington in documentary detail.

Spielberg’s greatest strengths as a director lie in structure and balance – the way he handles main plot and subplot, central characters and supporting characters. Add in Kushner’s remarkable ability to create distinctive characters in a line or two of dialogue and you get one of the richest and deepest casts in recent Hollywood history. Certainly Day-Lewis as Lincoln dominates his scenes, with his angular raven’s frame, the smile that lets you know he’s thinking a step ahead of you, the flattened and slightly ironic Midwestern cadence of his speech. (Obviously no films or audio of Lincoln exist – he was a few decades early for that — but Day-Lewis has clearly studied the many descriptions of his physical and vocal manner.)

But there are so many other vivid characters and scenes in “Lincoln” I cannot possibly list them all. There are major supporting roles, like Tommy Lee Jones as Pennsylvania congressman Thaddeus Stevens, a radical abolitionist who had long viewed Lincoln as a sellout, or David Strathairn as the stern but loyal William Seward, Lincoln’s secretary of state (who played the role of in-house enforcer that a White House chief of staff might play today). There are memorable bit parts, including James Spader as a New York scoundrel hired by Seward to win over wavering Democratic congressmen, or Lee Pace as the pro-slavery Democrat and famous orator Fernando Wood, who gave fulminating House speeches accusing Lincoln of setting himself up as an American Caesar. And then there’s Sally Field.

We don’t have time to unpack all the theories and arguments about why Field – who won two best-actress Oscars in the ‘80s, the only two times she’s been nominated – seemed to drop off the Hollywood radar screen after she turned 50, even as Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep sailed from one triumph to the next. She was more of an ingénue than they ever were, I guess, and I’m aware of the general opinion that a little Sally Field goes a long way. Whatever moment of inspiration caused Spielberg to cast her as Mary Todd Lincoln, it was sheer genius, because this is a role that demands bigness.

By all accounts a feared and respected woman who was not much liked or loved (arguably not by her husband either), Mary was seen by many contemporaries as the power behind the throne, if not something more than that — the fire that drove Lincoln forward. While some biographers have understood her as mentally ill (and that remains a possibility), Kushner presents her, in just two major scenes, as a woman of tremendous agony and pathos, sublimating all her ambition and desire into her husband and her sons. In our own age, Mary Lincoln could have been a politician herself, or almost anything else she could imagine; in Field’s ferocious portrayal, she is a feminist hero many decades before the advent of feminism, who made her own indelible contribution to American history.

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post:

A peculiar, powerful alchemy takes hold in “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s masterful portrait of the 16th U.S. president. Through that strange mix of realism, artifice, intimacy and scope that cinema uniquely possesses, viewers find themselves transported to 19th-century Washington, where Abraham Lincoln — portrayed in a surpassingly sympathetic performance by Daniel Day-Lewis — has just been reelected to a second term.

But instead of a grand tableau vivant that lays out the great man and his great deeds like so many too-perfect pieces of waxed fruit, Spielberg brings the leader and viewers down to ground level. Released from the plinth of the usual monumentality and worshipful adoration in which he’s so often trapped, Lincoln has been liberated — the better to joke, grieve, spin yarns, brood and work his considerable wits and wiles in the service of political sausage-making at its spiciest and most untidy.

Thus “Lincoln” gratifyingly dodges the kind of safe, starchy hagiography that some Spielberg skeptics feared. Rather, the filmmaker, who has brought Auschwitz and the besieged beaches at Normandy to life with such rigor and detail, proves yet again that he is the best filmmaker currently engaging in the form of assiduous research and creative interpretation known as historical drama.

Working from a dense, lively screenplay by playwright Tony Kushner (who last collaborated with Spielberg on “Munich”), Spielberg infuses “Lincoln” with energy, acumen, surprising humor and the unabashed affection for his subject that most Americans will wholly understand and probably share.

NY Times’ AO Scott:

And the genius of “Lincoln,” finally, lies in its vision of politics as a noble, sometimes clumsy dialectic of the exalted and the mundane. Our habit of argument, someone said recently, is a mark of our liberty, and Mr. Kushner, whose love of passionate, exhaustive disputation is unmatched in the modern theater, fills nearly every scene with wonderful, maddening talk. Mr. Spielberg’s best art often emerges in passages of wordlessness, when the images speak for themselves, and the way he composes his pictures and cuts between them endow the speeches and debates with emotional force, and remind us of what is at stake.

The question facing Lincoln is stark: Should he abolish slavery, once and for all, even if it means prolonging the war? The full weight and scale of this dilemma are the central lesson “Lincoln” asks us to grasp. The film places slavery at the center of the story, emphatically countering the revisionist tendency to see some other, more abstract thing — states’ rights, Southern culture, industrial capitalism — as the real cause of the Civil War. Though most of the characters are white (two notable and vital exceptions are Stephen Henderson and Gloria Reuben, as the Lincolns’ household servants), this is finally a movie about how difficult and costly it has been for the United States to recognize the full and equal humanity of black people.

There is no end to this story, which may be why Mr. Spielberg’s much-noted fondness for multiple denouements is in evidence here. There are at least five moments at which the narrative and the themes seem to have arrived at a place of rest. (The most moving for me is a quiet moment when the 13th Amendment is read aloud. I won’t give away by whom.) But the movie keeps going, building a symphony of tragedy and hope that celebrates Lincoln’s great triumph while acknowledging the terror, disappointment and other complications to come.

Some of the ambition of “Lincoln” seems to be to answer the omissions and distortions of the cinematic past, represented by great films like D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,”which glorified the violent disenfranchisement of African-Americans as a heroic second founding, and “Gone With the Wind,” with its romantic view of the Slave Power. To paraphrase what Woodrow Wilson said of Griffith, Mr. Spielberg writes history with lightning.

Go see this movie. Take your children, even though they may occasionally be confused or fidgety. Boredom and confusion are also part of democracy, after all. “Lincoln” is a rough and noble democratic masterpiece — an omen, perhaps, that movies for the people shall not perish from the earth.

LA Times’ Kenneth Turan:

Hollywood’s most successful director turns on a dime and delivers his most restrained, interior film. A celebrated playwright shines an illuminating light on no more than a sliver of a great man’s life. A brilliant actor surpasses even himself and makes us see a celebrated figure in ways we hadn’t anticipated. This is the power and the surprise of”Lincoln.”

These things all begin, as thoughtful films invariably do, with an excellent script. A Pulitzer Prize-winner for “Angels in America,” Kushner has always been adept at illuminating the interplay of the personal and the political. His literate screenplay, based on parts of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Lincoln,” is smart, dramatic and confident of the value of what it has to say.

Kushner has worked with Spielberg before (he co-wrote the Oscar-nominated “Munich” script) and his writing seems to bring out a level of restraint in their productions. There is nothing bravura or overly emotional about Spielberg’s direction here, but the impeccable filmmaking is no less impressive for being quiet and to the point. The director delivers selfless, pulled-back satisfactions: he’s there in service of the script and the acting, to enhance the spoken word rather than burnish his reputation.

The key speaker, obviously, is Day-Lewis. No one needs to be told at this late date what a consummate actor he is, but even those used to the way he disappears into roles will be startled by the marvelously relaxed way he morphs into this character and simply becomes Lincoln. While his heroic qualities are visible when they’re needed, Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is a deeply human individual, stooped and weary after four years of civil war but endowed with a palpable largeness of spirit and a genuine sense of humor.

Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci:

Lincoln is an epic achievement. Smart, inspiring and bold, the film shows a vision for what government can be and what it can do. It presents a road map for sensible political compromise in the pursuit of historic and important goals. And it paints a compelling portrait of Abraham Lincoln as a flawed, imperfect man who was nonetheless a genius and a once-in-a-generation visionary.

This isn’t a biopic; Lincoln doesn’t take us from the log splitting days of young Abe to the White House. It doesn’t even spend much time on the Civil War. In fact the majority of the film takes place during the final months of the War Between the States, that great act of treason. The war is winding down and Lincoln, gaunt and grey, turns his attention to one last sweeping effort: the passage of the 13th Amendment.

Think of Lincoln as West Wing: 1865. The film’s essentially a political procedural, following the almost-frantic attempts of the Lincoln White House to finally, once and for all, eliminate slavery in America. Lincoln enjoyed support for the 13th Amendment when he argued that it would be a way to help end the war, but as the war’s finale looms, he knows people will be less likely to stand behind eradicating slavery. And so it all becomes a great political calculation as the man balances the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of lives are being lost daily while he has to stall peace to wrest into being one of the greatest and most important changes in American history.

Lincoln is one of the least Spielbergian Spielberg movies. There are certainly times where he leans too heavily on the score, and he drags the ending out longer than it needs to go, but Lincoln is not one of his cloying Oscar movies. This isn’t Amistadagain (although it’s probably closest to Amistad in the whole of the Spielberg canon). Lincoln is a movie about ideas and intellectual courage, and Spielberg dials back most of his signature flourishes to allow the ideas and the debate to shine through. He puts his filmmaking into the service of every single word of Tony Kushner’s script. It is magnificent.

Lincoln never flinches from the conflicts of morality that the president faced. It never paints him as a saint – like everyone around him, he’s unsure that blacks should get the vote or even what will happen to the country once slavery is ended. He knows no black people. He knows only one thing: his belief that humans are created equal and that the idea of enslaving fellow men and women is completely evil. And he knows that he has this moment in time, these few weeks, to really follow through and end that evil.

Tension is a funny thing in cinema. You can create extraordinary tension even when the outcome is known. Ben Affleck did that wonderfully in Argo, and Spielberg does it masterfully in Lincoln. As the film comes to the Senate vote on the 13th Amendment the tension is thick, palpable. We all know how this ends – when’s the last time you bought somebody? – but the debate in the Senate is edge-of-your-seat stuff, an anxious, gut-knotting climax. It’s incredible! This is filmmaking at its highest.

NPR’s Ian Buckwalter:

The conflicts here between the congressional Democrats (who oppose the amendment) and the Republicans (who were themselves fostering a shaky alliance between opposed internal camps) are only barely more civil than the soldiers on the battlefields. Not even wartime and daily national tragedy is enough to keep these politicians from sniping at one another so viciously that it makes the most heated modern exchanges feel like a legislative love-in.

Presiding over all of this, with a reputation for nobly rising above the fray, is Abraham Lincoln, here portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis in a performance so effortless and invisible that it’s easy to forget this is an actor playing Lincoln and not the man himself.

Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is soft-spoken and folksy, with a gentle, reedy voice unlike that of many of the actors who have played the man before, but truer to historical accounts of what he sounded like. That voice, as thin and willowy as the man himself, seems almost incongruous for a man of such charisma and presence — even more so when it becomes clear that Spielberg, along with screenwriter Tony Kushner, has put together a portrait of Lincoln that is as averse to pulling punches as are his battle sequences.

39 Comments on this Post

  1. YESSSSS

    Ive been waitying for this movie for at least 5 years now.

    I cant believe we get this, The Hobbit, Les Mis, and Django so soon. Great year

  2. Saw Life of Pi last night – lock it in

  3. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Yeah, Life of Pi is amazing.

  4. Lincoln is a monumental piece of filmmaking. As everything in life, it is not perfect. Just as well, neither the man at the center of it. But damn, what a great film!

    I am waiting for Les Miserables to see if it will win my complete admiration as Lincoln did. So far, I doubt it will happen.

    Looking forward to it, though.

  5. Thanks,Sasha. Waiting your review.

  6. I’m really glad that Sally Field is getting some long over due recognition. I chuckled at that one phrase “a little Sally Field goes a long way”, but seriously, she’s fearless and effortless in almost every role, going back to the TV movie “Sybil”. Bravo Sally. Thank you Steven Spielberg.

  7. WOW, 88 Metacritic score (based on 27 reviews), I haven’t seen that in a while, hopefully it will stay that high, it will get another 15-18 reviews in the next week or so. Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Master all ended up with the very impressive 86 (based on 43-45 reviews).

    The Best Picture category is a mess with that new rule of 5% No1 and who-knows-how-many-slots, but the more important category, Best Director is coming together at last. Now we have two actual LOCKS, but it’s weird that it is mid-November, and the other three slots are still spectacularly up in the air.

    THE LOCKS
    1. Steven Spielberg (his best since ‘Private Ryan’)
    2. Ben Affleck (crowning moment of his stellar comeback ?)

    THE ‘PROBABLY’
    3. Tom Hooper (still a big question mark, still a potential frontrunner)
    4. Kathryn Bigelow (ditto)

    THE WEINSTEIN
    5. David O. Russell (TWC-crowdpleaser a.k.a. this year’s Hooper/Hazanavicius ?)
    6. Paul Thomas Anderson (strongest directing achievement of 2012 ?)
    7. Quentin Tarantino (it does sound rather Oscary for a Tarantino-film)
    8. Dustin Hoffman (the Academy LOVES actors in the director’s chair)
    9. Andrew Dominik (he’ll have the reviews, but Harvey will be busy)

    THE RISKTAKERS
    10. Ang Lee (they will either LOVE it … or ignore it)
    11. Michael Haneke (the Academy tends to go for foreign films in this category)
    12. Wes Anderson (Midnight in Paris sneaked in…but that was Woody Allen)
    13. Benh Zeitlin (unlikely, but still, remarkably promising debut)
    14. Joe Wright (IF US-critics fall in love with it…that’s a big if)
    15. Lana & Andy Wachowksy, Tom Tykwer (wishful thinking ?)

    THE BLOCKBUSTER
    16. Christopher Nolan (if they snubbed him for The Dark Knight…)
    17. Peter Jackson (first part of a trilogy, still, if it’s LOTR-good…)

    THE BIG SURPRISE ?
    18. Juan Antonio Bayona (I think he could be the big shocker in the long run)
    19. Ben Lewin (Polio survivor directing crowdpleaser about Polio-victim)
    20. Gus Van Sant (absolutely NO buzz…for now ?)

  8. Sasha, does the narrative back up a lead campaign for Sally Field or will they campaign her in supporting ? How many acting nominations are you expecting for this one ? DDL and TLJ, sure, anyone else ?

  9. Bryce Forestieri

    Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars

    http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/lincoln-20121108

    Peter Travers only 3 and half, but that’s because he only thoroughly enjoys 2 movies every year (beats me), yet it’s mostly raves.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/lincoln-20121108

  10. Bryce Forestieri

    @Ryan Adams
    What did I do to deserve moderation? I don’t remember insulting anyone in like 8 months…

  11. Profile photo of Sasha Stone

    Phantom, Sally Field is solidly supporting. I think.

  12. Ahh this is making me feel so good. Spielberg is not my favorite by a long shot, but he’s made some groundbreaking stuff (A.I. particularly).

    Read the TIME piece on Lincoln, Day Lewis and Spielberg, skimmed through these reviews (don’t want to get influenced too much) and have been following Sasha’s praise from day one.

    I’m officially excited for this!

  13. evelyn garver

    I can’t wait to see this film. Thank you,Sasha for all the coverage. I have followed the career of Daniel Day-Lewis for over a quarter of a century. For those who might know him only from GANGS OF NEW YORK or THERE WILL BE BLOOD [great films,of course] Take a look at his work in two films from 1985[I think} ROOM WITH A VIEW and MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE. He won his first NY critics award for supporting actor for those roles. I always think of what Shakespeare said of Cleopatra and paraphrase it for DDL. ” Time cannot wither him nor custom stale his infinite variety.”

  14. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Bryce, I don’t know what’s up with the moderation. Spam filter having an acid flashback?

    Not intentional.

    [Oh I see now -- your comment has two hyperlinks. That's a red flag for the robo-spam-killer.]

  15. Shashwat

    I don’t know if you’ve read Michael Phillips’ review, but his review is brilliant as well.

  16. Profile photo of Ryan Adams

    Thanks, Shashwat. I think the Trib’s review showed up on metacritic after Sasha chose who to quote. We’ll add a few paragraphs.

    By the way, somebody can check my math but I ran the numbers to see how it would affect Lincoln’s metacritic average if Rex Reed was gone. It’s still around 88 — with or without Reed. Unless I figured wrong, this could be evidence that Metacritic gives the words of some critics more weight than others.

  17. Rex Reed? Rating Killer. War Horse 4/4, Lincoln 2/4.

  18. First of all, I LOVED the movie. Maybe because I love history, maybe because I respect Lincoln, maybe because I loved the book, maybe because of superb acting, I dont know, but I loved the movie much more than I expected.

    When I got to movie theatre at 9.10 am for 9.30 showing I was quite surprised that almost half of the theatre was already full. The average age seemed to be above 50 (For a while I felt I was the youngest person in the theatre and I am not that young!). Then right before the movie started, a group of high school students with their teacher arrived and it was a full house at 9.30 am!!!
    At the beginning I felt a bit uneasy because of heavy usage of N-word in the movie (I know those were the times then but still!), and I was almost expecting some negative reaction especially from young schools kids, but no such thing happened. In fact, it was quite a pleasant experience as there were noone talking or going in and out of the theatre.

    Yes, it is quite dialogue heavy but it is NOT boring! Acting is quite good, DDL should win the Oscar easily (He is sooo much better than Denzel W. in my opinion). But then the question is if they would give him 3rd Oscar…

    Sally Field is truly supporting and she does a good job. She has a few scenes that will get her nomination easily (the same thing: I was thinking if she hadnt already had two Oscars. Equally good was Tommy Lee Jones. I wouldnt be surprised if he got supporting nomination. I even enjoyed James Spader’s performance.

    My only thought was if the middle America would connect with this movie. I saw this movie at a theatre in Upper West Side in Manhattan, higher income, higher education, overall higher SES than average American neighborhood. And there were cheers and a big applause at the end. But I wonder if average, esp. younger, audience would connect with a movie that depends heavily on dialogue (a very smart dialogue I have to say!)
    By the way, especially the voting scenes were not any less thrilling than some of other action movies! Loved it!

    Overall, this is a truly great movie, almost an experience in itself.

  19. thanks, Aragorn for you review.

  20. ChrisFlick

    Some of the other East Coast newspaper reviews were decidedly mixed, though pro-DDL. Just at one theater here so will have to wait awhile. Saw Skyfall instead. Terrific.

  21. Mohammed

    At last Spielberg will most likely get an actor of his nominated, perhaps even win the Oscar for best actor. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer actor. There are very few actors I can say without a doubt deserve an oscar for a performance, something that I’ll remember for some time. DDL is in a category of his own.

  22. I saw “Lincoln” today, and kudos all around. One very small note: I agree with what Roger Ebert wrote regarding when to end the film; pre-assassination would have been better.

  23. @Tony: A Spielberg movie that doesn’t know when to end? Will wonders ever cease!?

  24. I haven’t read the comments yet…but as much as I really enjoyed Lincoln I feel it would need box office to beat Argo. I feel like Spielberg’s pedigree loses to the Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson “actor turned director win” stereotype. If they are going to go with a veteran for Best Pic, I feel like they will go “Life of Pi” or “Django” if it is good. Even though it does have that “white man did right” thing going for it. Hope that doesn’t sound too cynical.

  25. Unquestionably a masterpiece, and the best of the year.

  26. Why Lincoln would need box office to beat Argo? Wasn’t The Hurt Locker the winner when Avatar was breaking records at the box office?

    Ok, that year they changed the number of nominees because TDK (another winner at the box office) was snubbed the year before. But still, I don’t understand why the BO would be the stronger/only prerequisite since we have precedent to the contrary?

    Sorry for my ignorance, but I really don’t understand the connection.

  27. Nice review. Looking forward to Lincoln.

  28. I knew it would be great. So it looks like the race is shifting into a huge uncontrollable storm in these next two months. Its overwhelming. You have Lincoln taking the BP spot, Life of Pi sure to make a huge impact, alongside Silver Linings Playbook(still not sold), with a monster oscar behemoth Les Miserables, the continuing of an Oscar trilogy(my favorite films of all time) wrapped in gold The Hobbit, followed by two movies that I think will be huge oscar favorites, Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty. Thats crazy.

  29. “Sally Field is getting some long over due recognition”

    Because 2 Oscars (with 2 nominations, mind you), 2 GGs, 3 Emmys and a SAG award aren’t enough…. *rolls eyes*

    if she couldn’t get in for Forrest Gump, is she really that big of a lock?

  30. I still find it difficult to grasp the idea that Tom Hooper would direct back to back Oscar winners. Maybe Spielberg’s timing is finally right.

  31. Radich

    In my opinion, when it comes to a relatively pricy prestige pic like ‘Lincoln’, Box Office can only hurt it if it is spectacularly bad compared to its budget. ‘The Hurt Locker’ didn’t have to deliver big numbers because it was a low-budget film with a low profile, early release date and minimal marketing.

    Then there is ‘Lincoln’ with its 65M price tag (modest considering the genre and the legends involved); a probably expensive, and most certainly agressive marketing push; a premium release date ; and of course VERY high-profile collaborators. The expectations are simply higher with a film like this. It’s more like Hugo last year. The problem wasn’t that it didn’t deliver good numbers, the problem was that taking the colossal budget and excellent pedigree into account, they expected MUCH better. ‘Lincoln’ won’t be hurt if it doesn’t break records in the US, but with that kind of pedigree, reaching that 65M in the US will be expected of it the very least (and that would still only cover half the production budget and would be still far away from paying for the marketing).

    Having said that, I don’t think it will face BO-problems. My guess is it will make well over 100M in the US and around the same overseas.

    By the way, could we have the strongest BP-year BO-wise since they expanded the category ? There were 5 100M+ grossers out of 10 nominees in 2009 and 2010, then only 1 (!) out of 9 last year. This year we already have several BP-contenders that have the 100M in the bag (Argo, The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises), several with excellent shot at reaching that mark (Lincoln, Les Miserables, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Flight) and a few that have sleeper hit written all over them (Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, The Impossible).

  32. d2

    Don’t worry, as Sasha stated earlier, Sally Field will go supporting, so she won’t be a threat to your fave, Jennifer Lawrence’s lead campaign. Also, it would be nice to see you NOT only write a comment about a promising actress contender NOT being promising enough in your eyes. First you said Naomi Watts, Keira Knightley and Marion Cotillard – three of the most impressive post-Oscar-nomination carreers, by the way – will be one-nod-wonders, now you have a problem with Sally Field gaining traction.

    Before you say she doesn’t deserve it because she has already won awards during her long career, consider this : she is 66, she has been acting for 47 years, after some early success on the small screen in the 60s (Gidget, The Flying Nun etc.), she won 2 LEAD Oscars in 1979 and 1984, then she went on to star in such memorable hit films like Steel Magnolias (1989), Soapdish (1991, Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), only to go back to her roots a few years later and reinvent herself once again, when she delivered an Emmy-winning performance on ER and then landed her own show (Brothers & Sisters) that garnered her another Emmy AND a SAG Award. Her TV Show ended last year, in 2011, and where is she now, in 2012 ? Part of a critically acclaimed smash franchise, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ AND getting some serious Oscar buzz for apparently NAILING an iconic role in a Spielberg film.

    And this Oscar buzz, you think is so undeserved simply because she had won before, bugs you even though she hasn’t been in the Oscar-game for almost 30 years now, despite staying relevant all these years. I think we should be VERY gratefuly that there are women in this industry like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench AND Sally Field, whose hard work and dedication to their craft forces the big shots to realize that there IS life after 40 for an actress in this business and they SHOULD bet on them MORE than they did in the past. Long story short, if I were you, I would seriously reconsider what’s enough and what isn’t before rolling my eyes…or seeing the film in question.

  33. I see what you are saying, phantom. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    I actually would think pedigree would be what holds the film’s prospects at the Oscars, even if BO fails. But I understand the dynamic of what you’ve explained.

  34. Jesus Alonso

    Despite the obvious potential for the win of Argo and Les Miserables, Lincoln is the obvious pick, given the politichal moment in America. I don’t know how people is not taking that into account. Zero Dark Thirty has zero chance of BP win, deja vu feeling as a mix of The Hurt Locker and United 93 in concept and probably in execution.

    I still would keep an eye on The Impossible, which I actually saw and is breaking all records in Spain, with an incredible word-of-mouth. It has the emotional punch that is required for the win. When you enter the theater you know the ending – it’s a true story – but nothing really gets you ready for the emotional trip. As I have been told, the main problem is, how many people is going to avoid viewing it, on purpouse, given its subject matter. But it they saw it… I’d watch out for Watts, McGregor and Holland in acting, even a possible SAG nom for the actors (the family and Geraldine Chaplin, mainly). I loved the film, I think it’s the best disaster film made, along with San Francisco and The Poseidon Adventure.

  35. Lincoln is a **** film. Third best film so far this year behind. Beast of the southern wild and SIlver Lining Playbill.

  36. The A.O. Scott review is another good one. I love people who love film and what it can be. It’s not always just about entertainment and something like Lincoln reminds us that there is a time, an occasion to celebrate an artist like Speiberg, actors who give their all like DDL and Field and Jones, and a project that trascends, or should trascend the usual cynicism and snark. I’m new to this site, but thank you for your passion Sasha.

  37. And yet, I still have no interest in seeing this one and I can’t figure out why…. Day Lewis should be enough. But it just isn’t striking me as a must see.

  38. Its a film about the greatest, most complex and fascinating American icon, as played by probably the greatest living actor and directed by a man who wears his heart, art and passion on his sleeve.
    If you can’t get excited about that – stick with superheroes.

  39. F*ckin’ amazing issues here. I am very glad to peer your
    article. Thank you a lot and i’m looking forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

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