VIENNA, Va., January 11, 2013 — “Lincoln” easily grabbed 12 Oscar nominations, and it seems almost a given that the Steven Spielberg production should walk away with a goodly portion of them on Academy Awards night, although one can ever accurately predict the often elusive award.
Some of the other nominees for Best Picture are off the mainstream of movie viewing, such as the beautiful “Life of Pi,” which garnered 11 nominations, and the more questionable selections such as “Django Unchained,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and the recent addition of “Les Miserables” for anyone who has not seen several productions of it previously. Two of the nominees fall into the current events genre, “Zero Dark Thirty,” covering the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and “Argo,” based on the story of the Iran hostages.
In my purely subjective opinion, it would seem that the bringing of new performers in new performances to light is a distinctly easier task to fulfill than to take a person who has been known historically for over 150 years, and certainly not a new creation, and bring that character to life on the big screen, which Spielberg has done brilliantly.
Daniel Day-Lewis, who is nominated in the Best Actor category, literally becomes the 16th President.
For individual nominees, it will be exceedingly difficult to find anyone who can best the acting of Day-Lewis or Tommy Lee Jones as the maddening abolitionist, Thaddeus Stevens, as Best Supporting actor. His chimera-like performance is a study in method acting.
“Les Miz” is so well-known that Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean seems to be perfectly cast, but he cannot rival Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Lincoln when all is said and done.
It is a shame that Sally Field was not nominated for Best Actress, for her portrayal as the indomitable Mary Todd Lincoln, but that talented lady ought to walk away with the Supporting Actress award.
To say that she literally exuded the oft criticized, frequently unstable First Lady in stark contrast to Lincoln’s solid Abraham is an understatement. For an actress like Sally Field, whom most of us remember fondly as the “Flying Nun,” her Mary Todd was the icing on the cake.
In terms of character strength and credibility, only Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of a CIA operative hunting Osama bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty” (was such a female in that position fact or fancy?) comes close to approaching Field who actually became Mary Todd Lincoln.
All things considered, can anyone truly compete with Steven Spielberg for best director? It is his seventh directing nomination and he has prevailed on two previous occasions for that award.
The Academy is to be congratulated for its wide range of nominees, but “Lincoln’s” twelve nominees should come out on top if pure acting and directing ability are the actual criteria. Just as you cannot consider the Civil War without thinking of Abe Lincoln, the Oscars this year must represent that same attention to Mr. Lincoln.
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