Lincoln a Smart Political 'Masterpiece'

Critics heap praise on Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, Tony Kushner

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 9, 2012 9:14 AM CST

(Newser) – There will be no civil war among critics about Lincoln. Steven Spielberg's latest is enjoying nearly universal praise for its intense portrayal of the man and of American politics. Here's what critics are saying:

  • "This is less a biopic than a political thriller, a civics lesson that is energetically staged and alive with moral energy," writes AO Scott of the New York Times. Writer Tony Kushner "fills nearly every scene with wonderful, maddening talk," and the result "is a rough and noble democratic masterpiece."

  • The acting is top-notch, raves Peter Travers of Rolling Stone. The supporting cast is superb—Tommy Lee Jones turns in an "Oscar-caliber performance"—and Daniel Day-Lewis "wears his role like a second skin and feels it down to his nerve endings … This Lincoln can whisper across canyons."
  • If you're expecting a saintly Lincoln, think again. "Lincoln is smarter and tougher than that," writes Ty Burr of the Boston Globe. It "neatly balances naivete and cynicism … in a way that flatters an audience's ability to think for itself."
  • Spielberg has often "represented both the best and worst impulses of American film," and his "biggest challenge" was probably repressing the latter, writes Andrew O'Hehir at Salon. This could have been maudlin. Instead it's "a tightly focused and morally ambiguous study of a character," and "an experience that is at once emotional, visceral, and intellectual." It already seems like "an enduring classic."

In this undated publicity photo released by DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox, Daniel Day-Lewis, stars as President Abraham Lincoln, in this scene from director Steven Spielberg's drama Lincoln.
In this undated publicity photo released by DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox, Daniel Day-Lewis, stars as President Abraham Lincoln, in this scene from director Steven Spielberg's drama "Lincoln."   (AP Photo/DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, David James)
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The official trailer for "Lincoln."   (YouTube)

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