The apparent strength of Lincoln as the likeliest lazy-default Best Picture winner (based on the apparent weakening of Les Miz plus the 4 SAG nominations and 7 Golden Globe nominations) is, of course, hugely depressing for me personally. It feels awful. I can feel my spirit pouring out onto the floor like sand. But how is the likelihood of Lincoln not a shrug for the vast majority out there? I’m asking this.
Forget respectful, admiring and approving. I approve of Steven Spielberg‘s film as far as it goes but who out there is genuinely feeling the flutter and the levitation from this somber, dutiful, milky-white-lighted legislative procedural slog? Because if a movie isn’t lifting you off the ground or lighting you up or turning you around in some emphatic, lapel-grabbing way, what are you doing? Why the hell would you want to put it at the top of the 2012 Best Picture list? Who are you? What are you eating?
I’m speaking honestly here. I’m not just doing my usual Spielberg-default critique. I really do know a few things…a lot more than a few about what constitutes a truly exceptional, stand-tall movie, and I’m really, really speaking from a place of truth and concern.
Just separate Daniel Day Lewis‘s performance from the film itself. That’s all I’m asking…okay, begging that people try and do for five minutes. Separate that performance from the film and try and extricate yourself from the effect of having ingested the lore of Abraham Lincoln from the time you were seven or eight years old. If you do these two things, Lincoln will still be on your list (because it’s somewhere between pretty good and quite good) but it won’t be on the top of it — trust me.
You might want to also recall how Lincoln begins with a flagrantly phony scene, probably the phoniest in any of the top-ranked 2012 films. I’m speaking of that crassly calculated, totally bullshit opener in which President Lincoln shares some quiet words with four Union soldiers (two white, two black) under the cloak of night, and how this leads to one of the black guys, played by David Oyelowo, to polite tell his Commander-in-Chief that he’s irked and disappointed that men of color aren’t allowed to become officers. And then he recites a portion of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and he walks away from Lincoln as he continues to recite, withdrawing like a member of a chorus in an early 1950s stage production of Brigadoon. For this scene alone Lincoln deserves to lose. I mean that.
The ground-lifters are Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Holy Motors, Anna Karenina and the last 40 minutes of Les Miserables. No lie, no spin, no hot air…fact.