‘Lincoln’: The Early Reviews Are In!

Debuting at the New York Film Festival, Steven Spielberg's biopic won praise and even some Oscar buzz.

Last night, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” premiered as one of the New York Film Festival’s secret screenings. The film, which was described as a work in progress, largely impressed critics, even some of those who were left cold after a highly satirized trailer.

Though not everyone fell for Spielberg’s take on the final months of the 16th president’s life, most reviews praised Daniel Day-Lewis‘ performance, but noted that Tommy Lee Jones stole the show as Thaddeus Stevens.

Here is what the critics are saying about Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”

Oscar Potential
“Based on my own evaluation of the film and its prospects, I expect it will be a sure shot for Academy Award nominations for best picture, best director, and best actor for two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis, playing America’s 16th president. … I think it stands a very strong shot for further noms for best supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the powerful Republican congressman Thaddeus Stevens and best supporting actress Sally Field, who appears as Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. …In short, ‘Lincoln’ appears to be Oscar-bait incarnate.” — Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Daniel Day-Lewis
“The problem is that, with so much fun action happening on the House floor, the ostensible main characters get overshadowed — and none more so than Lincoln, a soft-spoken and obviously powerful figure who still isn’t part of some of the film’s best scenes. Day-Lewis’s performance is faultless and surprisingly restrained, but he spends far too much of the film acting opposite Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln (giving a performance badly out of step with the film’s low-key tone) or Joseph Gordon-Levitt as eldest son Robert, a character with almost no bearing on the plot.” — Katey Rich, Cinema Blend

The Ensemble
“Day-Lewis was the talk of the town when the first “Lincoln” trailers made their way on the Web, but surprisingly, ‘Lincoln’ wows because it’s a well-balanced ensemble drama. Lee Jones delivers his best work in a decade as the grouchy idealist, [James] Spader delivers the comedic performance of the Fall season, and every scene introduces another familiar face to add additional gravitas to the picture (as opposed to being a distracting cameo fest). S. Epatha Merkerson’s late-in-the-game scene opens up the tear ducts in a way that none of her male costars can.” — Matt Patches, Hollywood.com

The Final Word
“Aided by Kushner’s script, ‘Lincoln’ is seriously muted compared to anything Spielberg has done before. ‘The West Wing’ by way of a costume drama, it tracks the abolition of slavery as a series of negotiations with major ramifications only transparently stated in the final scenes. ‘This is history!’ someone actually exclaims. Indeed it is, and with all that talking, ‘Lincoln’ eventually runs out of breath, but not before making it clear that the 65-year-old Spielberg most certainly has not.” — Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Check out everything we’ve got on “Lincoln.”

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