Try as I might, I cannot dislike Daniel Day Lewis. At first glance, I would assume he is conceited and WAY too full of himself.
After all, he’s often called one of the most revered actors of his generation. He’s already won two Oscars, though he has only made 19 films (including Lincoln) over the course of his 30-some year career.
Compare that with two other highly-revered actors still working today: Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro. Streep has three Oscars but she has made over 40 movies and De Niro has two Oscars with over 70 films on his resume. So, Day-Lewis basically wins an Oscar for every nine movies he makes. If he wins for Lincoln, which seems highly likely at this point since he has won almost every conceivable award for his performance as the 16th President, he will increase his Oscar-winning percentage to winning an Academy Award for every six movies he makes. WOW.
So, this is even more proof that he HAS to be overly arrogant, but he keeps making these darn magnanimous award acceptance speeches that make him seem humble and human. I still remember when he was on the awards circuit for There Will Be Blood (2007) in early 2008, around the same time as the sudden death of actor Heath Ledger. Day Lewis’ acceptance speeches at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Oscars, acknowledged the passing of Ledger as a great loss to the acting profession.
So, I guess that means I like him, right? Well, after seeing Lincoln, it’s again hard not to. It’s evident why he is sweeping the awards this season. Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is soft-spoken, genial, tender when need be and firm when needed as well. He’s a righteous man in a mostly un-righteous time. Yes, in Lincoln, Day-Lewis has a top-notch director in Steven Spielberg (nominated for a directing Oscar) and a terrific supporting cast led by Sally Field (who plays Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd) and Tommy Lee Jones (who plays Lincoln supporter Rep. Thaddeus Stevens) both of whom have been nominated for supporting Oscars. But, even with all of that greatness around him, Day-Lewis still stands out with the best performance in the movie. He becomes Lincoln…both in body and soul. It is well known that Day-Lewis tends to embody his characters on and off the set while he is filming. But, his Lincoln is more than that. His Lincoln IS Abraham Lincoln. It’s not really even a performance, it’s like traveling back in time and watching Lincoln work and behave and struggle.
So, whether Democrat or Republican, history buff or not, see Lincoln, if only for the best “performance-that-is-more-than-a-performance” of the year.
Lincoln: 2012, 150 minutes, PG-13, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, and John Hawkes. The Niles Library has this title on order on DVD and blu-ray when it comes out on March 26.