The Set of 400: #61 – My Favorite George Washington Anecdote

Today! Because nothing will make an Englishman shit quicker than the sight of George Washington –

Lincoln (2012)

Directed by Steven Spielberg (x10)

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis (x3), Sally Field (x2), Tommy Lee Jones (x5), David Strathairn (x4), James Spader, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (x2), Hal Holbrook, John Hawkes, Bruce McGill (x2), Tim Blake Nelson (x2), Jackie Earle Haley (x4), Jared Harris, Lee Pace (x2), Peter McRobbie (x3), Michael Stuhlbarg (x2), Gloria Reuben, Walton Goggins (x3), David Oyelowo (x2), Lukas Haas (x2), Dane DeHaan, Bill Camp, Wayne Duvall (x2), Gregory Itzin (x2), Adam Driver (x2), Christopher Evan Welch (x2), S. Epatha Merkerson (x2), Joseph Cross, Boris McGiver

My favorite movie from one of my favorite years, 2012’s Lincoln almost starred Liam Neeson. Wrap your mind around that for a second. For years there were stories about Spielberg trying to mount this epic Abe biopic, with his Schindler’s List star attached, and I always figured that could work. Neeson has that magisterial presence, and what more would you really need to play Lincoln? But now that we’ve seen the greatest living actor in the role, it’s pretty tough to imagine anyone else in the part. Never mind Neeson’s very recent (as of this writing) issues concerning some racist tendencies from his youth (Has this story blown over? Be sure to go look it up), which would’ve made him donning the big stovepipe a bit awkward.

If you know nothing else about me except my 340 favorite movies so far, it’s probably about time I share that I’ve got a thing for U.S. Commanders in Chief. I’m no presidential scholar – I’m too busy watching movies to dedicate the time required – but the wife and I are committed to visiting every president grave site in the country, along with their adjoining museums/libraries/road side monuments if they exist. Lincoln’s Springfield tomb was one of the few we visited before officially starting on this quest, his being the third president grave we saw, following JFK and Taft in Arlington, VA.

It’s pretty grand and glorious in Springfield, IL

Plus it has an equally classy gift shop – the wife seen here

As of this writing, we’ve seen 33 of the 39 presidential graves currently in existence, and by the time you read this we will have knocked out at least two more – we’ve got LBJ and H.W. on the docket in the near future. If you glance back in my Instagram this is likely documented. And now, back to the movie!

With the exception of the somewhat tin-eared opening sequence, Lincoln is damn near perfect. With a cast this massive, the film could’ve become an unwieldy battle for screen time and prominence, especially with so many high caliber actors, however this is another reason why casting Day-Lewis was so vital for their success. No one is going to argue we should have less DDL in a movie in favor of anybody, even with your Tommy Lee Joneses and David Straithairns and James Spaders doing excellent work. Hell, the magnificent Jackie Earle Haley and Jared Harris total about four minutes of screen time between them. But with the piles of makeup and period costumes, the parade of greats in glorified cameos is never particularly distracting.

There’s no way to say how the 2012 Oscars would’ve played out had Ben Affleck just been nominated for Best Director. His snub kicked off the bizarre string of events that led to Argo’s eventual Best Picture win, but you can’t say for sure this wouldn’t have happened anyway. I believe that the true casualty of this occurrence was Lincoln, which had led the way with 12 nominations and felt like such a vintage Best Picture winner as to make the awards season a fait accompli. Even in this stacked a year, it seemed like the cross-sectional option that would appeal to the most voters, especially considering the weighted system they use for balloting. Ang Lee won Best Director for Life of Pi, but that effects heavy fake tiger movie didn’t take home any significant guild Best Pictures, and never felt like a true contender. Django, Les Miz, and Silver Linings Playbook had their supporters but weren’t gathering a big galvanizing following. Zero Dark Thirty maybe? No, I think Argo ate Lincoln’s lunch, just when it looked like Spielberg had the grand capping event of his career. I guess now maybe it’s West Side Story? Shame!

This is Spielberg’s fourth movie out of the last eleven posted, and tenth overall, pulling him within one of Woody’s lead. It’ll be a little while before anymore from either, so strap in for the contentious finish! Loads of new Two-Timers (including Animal House‘s Bruce McGill appearing on consecutive days!) and advancing folks, led by Oscar nominee here and prior winner Jones, heading to the Fives after #376 Men in Black, #201 The Fugitive, #357 JFK, and #337 Under Siege. Spotlight!

It may be period, but it’s not an overly handsome wig

Coming tomorrow! Look Homeward, Angel. Scott, it’s a book, by Thomas Wolfe –

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