Well, one of the major unknown features of the awards season has been seen and the response is largely positive in many of the right places. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln screened last night as the not-so-surprise screening at the New York Film Festival and plenty of praise has been placed on the film, Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role and lots of love for Tommy Lee Jones who is said to "steal the picture".
It should be mentioned the film was said to be an unfinished cut so some trimming may still take place (though it has already been rated PG-13 by the MPAA so changes seem unlikely), but reactions had folks referring to it as a "rock solid monument to Abe", "heavy and heady" and "the best film Roberto Rossellini never made. Also one of the best Spielberg did make."
Tony Kushner's screenplay seems like a solid pick for a nomination at this point, though Nathaniel at Film Experience overhearing one person say, "It was obviously written by a playwright. A LOT of words." Hmmmmm, is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Obviously Day-Lewis earned plenty of love and now sounds like a Best Actor front-runner, which only seems to confirm early expectation though I did have Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) in first until now.
Before writing up this piece, I had Tommy Lee Jones in the #20 spot on the Best Supporting Actor list, but I think it goes without saying he's no longer there and Sally Field sounds like a contender, but an on-the-fringe nominee at best and certainly not a winner.
It sounds like Spielberg is a good choice for a Best Director nomination and makeup, costumes and production design may be in order. With regards to John Williams' score and Janusz Kaminski's cinematography, Katey Rich says, "Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, John Williams and the makeup artists will all surely be nominated."
Josh Lasser at Hit Fix adds, "John Williams has delivered a good, if not terribly memorable, score. It may meld with what is happening during the movie, but it may not stick with audiences afterwards." And Rodrigo Perez adds:
"Painted in a musty brown and blue, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński does a commendable job of making an inherently unattractive palette look borderline beautiful, especially when dealing with the tonalities of chiaroscuro, but a mostly ugly palette it ultimately is. Thankfully, John Williams' score, easily the worst offender in Spielberg's War Horse, is, like the picture, solemn, well-controlled and moving with a dignified air of grace."
I haven't opened the doors on my predictions for any of the below-the-line categories yet, but I think we already see where Lincoln will be fitting in.
So what do we make of all this? Is it Lincoln for the win!?!?! No, but movement is in order. Let's take a look at a few categories...
To begin, the top five haven't shifted at all. I see no reason to move Les Miserables at this time. Lincoln, as a film, didn't blow the socks off NYFF folks to the point it would move above Silver Linings Playbook (which just won the audience award at the Hamptons Film Festival) or Argo (which just had a well-received screening at the Academy) and Les Mis earned a bit of praise from a correspondent at Gold Derby that Tom O'Neil seems to put some faith in. The film will enjoy a "monster sweep" said the anonymous source, going by "Snuggle 4". I don't put much stock in anonymous sources, but if you're looking for any reason to keep the faith in Les Mis now you have some.
I have moved Life of Pi up a bit as well and also changed my cut-off line from nine nominees to eight. That may change soon with the screening of Flight coming up in New York, but I feel both Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom are losing a little steam as attention is being paid elsewhere. However, films such as Flight and Amour are moving up while I will continue to keep Anna Karenina as a fringe candidate until all reviewers weigh in.
My Best Picture top eight are directly below and you can find my full field here.
- Les Miserables
- Silver Linings Playbook
- The Master
- Life of Pi
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Moonrise Kingdom
Daniel Day-Lewis was always thought to be a major contender in this category and for most the front-runner. After seeing Joaquin Phoenix in The Master I felt he, at the very least, deserved front-runner status until Lincoln was seen and now that the first reactions to the film are coming in, it indeed seems like Day-Lewis is the one to beat as Steven Spielberg may have finally directed his first actor to an Oscar win.
Elsewhere, I feel Bradley Cooper is going to benefit from all the Silver Linings Playbook love, but I'm gaining confidence in Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour). Trintignant definitely has one of the best performances of the year, but the fact Amour is a foreign language film concerns me a bit. Had Demien Bichir (A Better Life) not been nominated last year, I'm not sure what I would do at this point.
I have added the top five in order directly below and you can check out the full list right here.
- Daniel Day-Lewis, (Lincoln)
- Joaquin Phoenix, (The Master)
- John Hawkes, (The Sessions)
- Denzel Washington, (Flight)
- Jean-Louis Trintignant, (Amour)
Click to Page Two for predictions for updates to Best Supporting Actor, Director and Adapted Screenplay.