We did. Even though it may have annoyed people, there are five reasons it was justified.
#1 Old Man Delivering a Speech Voice
I agree that Daniel Day-Lewis makes a pretty convincing Abe Lincoln, at least in terms of appearance. But for some strange reason, he does this oratorical old man voice in EVERY SINGLE SCENE. Like, not just the scenes where he’s delivering a speech, but even when his face is 3 inches away from Mary Todd Lincoln’s or he’s just shooting the shit with a bunch of aides. Dude, don’t most politicians usually have an indoor voice, too?
And it’s not even a normal old man voice. It’s like some weird cadence-heavy Bob Dylan voice. I’m guessing it’s like when Johnny Depp decided to do an imitation of Keith Richards because someone told him that Jack Sparrow was a kind of rock star figure. Maybe someone said, “Lincoln was like a rambly-old-man-burned-out-eccentric” and DDL was like, “Dylan!”
(Yeah, I know there’s all kinds of research out there saying that Lincoln had a weird voice. I stand firm in my inappropriate laughter.)
#2 Mary Todd Lincoln: Harpy
Mary Todd Lincoln was not exactly beloved, and most scholars agree that she was probably mentally ill or personality disordered. But man, they could not make the woman any shriller. Sally Field shrieks through her scenes like she’s still on the set of Soapdish (which is, incidentally, a better movie).
#3 Robert California as Himself
This was priceless. I’m sure that James Spader CAN play other characters. But in this case, W.N. Bilbo is really just Robert California in period britches. Same smirk, same scoundrelly-ness, same sarcasm…
“Politics are all about sex. The Union wants it. The Confederacy wants it…
#4 John Williams Rips Off The National Geographic Theme and Just Decides To Go With It
Don’t believe me? Watch from 1:30 onward.
It reminds me of that scene in the Twilight Zone Movie where Albert Brooks sings lyrics to the National Geographic theme: “Look-at-that-fos-sil/It’s-stuck-there-in-the-tar (Boom Boom)”
“Look-at-John-Williams, he-is-cashing-a-check (Boom Boom)”
Mr. Max adds that it also rips off the following:
Lord of the Rings score
The Postman score
Jurassic Park score
Aaron Copeland (generally)
Ashokan Farewell, the theme from Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary series
#5 General Spielbergianisms
We knew this going in, but boy oh boy there were certainly some serious goofy Spielberg moments. Just a few:
Any of Tommy Lee Jones’ grumpy reaction shots
Har har har!!! Because every historical drama about slavery needs a moment that seems like it belongs in Mrs. Doubtfire.
Comic relief re: political corruption
There’s literally a montage where James Spader falls down in mud while trying to lobby votes for the amendment. I’m sorry but no. Falling down humor is for Kevin James movies only.
And, last but not least:
Depicting the African-American perspective through shots of extras with one tear running down their cheek and THAT’S IT.
You’d think they could have gone beyond the depth of narrative depicted in those crying-Native-American PSAs.
I love you.
Look at these OLD bones, THEY must be worth big bucks (boom boom). I also suffered from the musical Ken Burns-out. Other noted Spielbergianisms: right off the bat, those two soldiers trading lines of the Gettysburg Address. GROAN. Also, the image of Lincoln overlayed on the flickering candle flame upon hearing the news of his assassination… STUFF IT!
Oh thank god. You are the only person I’ve talked to who didn’t LURVE this movie. And yes yes YES to your noted Spielbergianisms. I still can’t believe they used that candle flame dissolve in a real movie (not LMN). If this wins an Academy Award I will lose it.