Top Ten Movies of 2012 — Number Ten

10lincoln

As if Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t already deserve countless plaudits for his transformative performance as the sixteenth President of the United States in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, it seems his reluctance to take on the role–noting that reluctance to take on a role is hardly an uncommon situation when it comes to Day-Lewis–helped the director find his way to a version of the project that is somewhat unexpected for him. Rather than a conventional biopic, meticulously and tirelessly tracing the historical figure’s path to greatness, the film focuses sharply on a brief period of time as Lincoln works to win passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, officially abolishing slavery in the country, ahead of the conclusion of the Civil War. There is a tightly controlled examination of the art and ugliness of American politics in Tony Kushner’s screenplay, penned after previous attempts by well-respected writers were discarded, at least in part because they failed to convince Day-Lewis to come aboard the project. The concentrations on the mechanics of lawmaking divert Spielberg from attempts to overly mythologize Lincoln or build showy sweep into the film, resulting in a work that has historical heft and a timelessness that will endure for as long as people need to fight for their freedoms, often in the face of abject bigotry. Sadly, that probably means it will be timeless for ages to come.

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