Later this week, Daniel Day-Lewis will almost certainly be handed his fifth Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work in Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln. Knowing that, the film’s history seems almost unreal.

Lincoln was more years than usual in the making as Spielberg struggled not only to lock down the right story to tell about the 16th President of the United States, but to find the right actor to play him. Spielberg’s first choice was Day-Lewis, who turned down the role on multiple occasions. The actor later recommended his friend Liam Neeson for the role, and he was attached for years before having to move on. Then, armed with a brand new script by Tony Kushner, Spielberg was finally able to land his original man, and the resulting performance speaks for itself.

The first time the actor turned down the lead role in Lincoln, the actor wrote the most powerful director in Hollywood a letter explaining his decision. You can now read that after the jump.

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There’s a lot to be said for timing when it comes to film awards, and in that respect things couldn’t have worked out better for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty. While most audiences won’t even have a chance to see the film until early next year, the first screenings of the movie have drawn rave reviews. And now it has picked up what will likely be the first of many awards.

Today the New York Film Critics Circle voted on awards for 2012, and Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln were the big winners, with nothing scored by The Master, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, or other potential awards faves. Kathryn Bigelow took Best Director and her movie won Best Film, which is the same dual wins the filmmaker enjoyed in 2009 before The Hurt Locker went on to Oscar success. Get the full list of recipients below. Read More »

You’ve seen the trailer and the debate TV spot, and you’ve had a chance to read early reviews based on the “work in progress” print shown at the New York Film Festival. (Which, in all likelihood was very close to a final cut, save for a few nips and tucks.) Now you can watch director Steven Spielberg and star Daniel Day Lewis field questions about the film, thanks to the miracle of technology.

Lincoln looks at the last few months 16th President’s life, and as Angie described, follows “Lincoln’s attempt to push the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolishes slavery, through the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, at home, Lincoln’s marriage to Mary Todd (Sally Field) is strained by the death of their son Willie three years prior, and their eldest son Robert Todd (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is furious at his parents’ refusal to let him go to war.”

The Q&A touches on the reasons for focusing on some of those elements, and on the process employed to bring this version of Abraham Lincoln to the screen. Read More »

Continuing a tradition that started with last year’s surprise unveiling of the then-unfinished Hugo, the New York Film Festival this week revealed a first look at a work-in-progress cut of Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln.

Though we’ve seen little of the film so far, aside from a couple of trailers, the subject matter and the talent involved have marked it from early on as a potential Oscar contender. Based on the version I saw Monday night, that buzz is well-earned — it’s tough to imagine this film coming out the other end of awards season without at least a couple of little gold men. On the other hand, Spielberg falters by letting the Sixteenth President remain more myth than man, and the resulting film is a polished period piece that only occasionally feels truly vital.

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These days, Abraham Lincoln is regarded almost unanimously as U.S. as one of the greatest American presidents in history. But in his time, the sixteenth president wasn’t so universally beloved. While modern-day politicians and pundits like to toss around the word “war” to describe pretty much any government policy or cultural trend they don’t care for, Lincoln served during the actual Civil War. Which was sparked, in part, by his election. Suddenly, all that “2012 is the most important election ever” rhetoric seems rather overblown.

All of which makes it a pretty brilliant move on Disney’s part to unveil a fiery new TV spot for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln during Wednesday night’s first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. As the two candidates duked it out in Colorado, the energetic Lincoln trailer reminded us that for all the hand-wringing about partisanship, we’ve seen much worse before — and emerged stronger as a unified nation. And oh yeah, there’s plenty of new footage. Watch it after the jump.

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The first trailer for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th President of the United States, has just been released. It opens November 9 in select cites and expands November 16 everywhere. Co-starring Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook and Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln dramatizes the final months of Abraham Lincoln’s life before he was tragically assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. Check out the trailer below. Read More »

When you’ve got a near-perfect recreation of a figure like Abraham Lincoln as the centerpiece of a film, the only way to promote that film is by showing it off. And so here’s the first poster for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the sixteenth US President, caught towards the end of his life. This shot carries forward the tone suggested by the first official production still, and cements what we’ve known about the film: that it pictures the President as he is in the midst of a combative political climate, facing grave challenges.

See the full image below.  Read More »

Here’s what many people have been waiting to see since Steven Spielberg cast Daniel Day-Lewis in his presidential biopic Lincoln: an official shot of Lewis in costume and makeup as our sixteenth president. He looks fantastic — almost eerily like our image of the man — pictured in what could well be his seat at the Ford Theater, where John Wilkes Booth would take Lincoln’s life only minutes later.

The film is based on the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, which chronicles Lincoln’s often combative relationship with his combative cabinet, especially in the last months of his life, when he was attempting to navigate the aftermath of the Civil War and the end of slavery. This image captures Lincoln’s famously contemplative character; see the full shot below. Read More »

Briefly: Some of you will be very happy to be able to mark your calendars with a solid date for Steven Spielberg‘s Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the sixteenth president. Appropriately, the film opens limited on November 9, but then goes wide on November 16. So we’ll get a classic president on screens just after we make the choice for our next one.

The film also features a few other people: Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill, Joseph Cross, David Costabile, Byron Jennings, Dakin Matthews, Boris McGiver, Gloria Reuben, Jeremy Strong, David Warshofsky, David Strathairn, Walton Goggins, Lee Pace, Jackie Earle Haley, David Oyelowo and Jared Harris.

Lincoln, which is scripted by Tony Kushner based on Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s book Team of Rivals, has some minor competition on that first opening day: a little action movie called Skyfall.

Tommy Lee Jones is not an easy man to impress. For example, on the set of Men In Black 3, Will Smith said you knew you told a really, really hilarious joke when Jones cracked the tiniest of smiles. That said, the praise he laid upon Daniel Day-Lewis, his co-star in Steven Spielberg‘s upcoming Lincoln, is very exciting. Jones, who is something of a history expert, said no one has ever portrayed Lincoln as well as Day-Lewis does in this film. Being as we have yet to see anything official from Lincoln, this is more than just a ringing endorsement.

In the film, which opens later this Winter, Jones plays Thaddeus Stevens. After the jump, read his full thoughts on Day-Lewis’ performance and his experience on the movie. Read More »