It's difficult to make a movie out of an idea; better to concentrate on the man. But Lincoln wasn't just a man, he was also an idea personified.
And that's exactly what Steven Spielberg (nominated for Best Director in this year's Oscars) capitalizes on in his Oscar-nominated biopic. With Tony Kushner (nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay), he focuses the film around Lincoln's legislative struggle to pass the 13th Amendment calling for the abolition of slavery.
Spielberg is wise enough, though, to embody the conflicting ideas of that period through a superb ensemble of actors whose performance transports viewers to nobler heights even as they witness the gritty and dirty backdoor politicking. Leading the ensemble cast is Daniel Day-Lewis (nominated for Best Actor) who plays Lincoln, Sally Field (Best Supporting Actress nominee) who plays Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd. Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor nominee) plays Thaddeus Stevens, leader of the Radical Republicans, who tempers his (then) extreme views of racial equality to rally support for Lincoln's 13th Amendment proposal.
And that is how to make a biopic. ✍
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