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    Lincoln Review Roundup: Steven Spielberg's Grandiose, Awards-Baiting Epic Is the Candidate to Beat

    Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln DreamWorks

    The votes are in, and the critical consensus has clearly elected the frontrunner for the upcoming awards season.

    Reviews for Steven Spielberg's highly touted epic Lincoln have started to surface, and judging by the film's exhilarating reception, opponents might want to start writing those concession speeches.

    Indeed, anchored by a galvanizing turn from two-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis as Honest Abe, the film has positioned itself as the candidate to beat, with critics hitting the campaign trail hard and fast on its behalf.

    Here's what those exit polls had to say.

    Oscar-buzz cheat sheet: Lincoln wins in a landslide?!

    "Splendid," gushes A.O. Scott of The New York Times. "To say that this is among the finest films ever made about American politics may be to congratulate it for clearing a fairly low bar…This is less a biopic than a political thriller, a civics lesson that is energetically staged and alive with moral energy."

    "The portrait of Lincoln transcends conventional judgments; it's a complete creation, perfect on its own terms," raves The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern. "Mr. Spielberg's remarkable film seems old and new too: genuinely old in its beautifully rendered settings and costumes; genuinely new in its placement of our 16th president, portrayed in eccentric glory by Daniel Day-Lewis."

    "I'm calling it: The Oscar is Day-Lewis' to lose," proclaims People's Alynda Wheat. "His rounded shoulders and reedy tenor belie a power that roars as Lincoln fights to pass the 13th Amendment, ending slavery."

    Daniel Day-Lewis pulls a Clint Eastwood with empty-chair speech

    "Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics," writes Roger Ebert in his four-star review. "Daniel Day-Lewis, who has a lock on an Oscar nomination, modulates Lincoln. He is soft-spoken, a little hunched, exhausted after the years of war, concerned that no more troops die. He communicates through stories and parables."

    "A movie whose pleasures are subtle ones," offers Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, who notes that the film "knows how to reveal the considerable drama inherent in the overarching battle of big ideas over the amendment as well as the small-bore skirmishes of political strategy and the nitty-gritty scramble for congressional votes."

    "The phenomenal Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln with the immersive, indelible power of an actor who wears his role like a second skin and feels it down to the nerve endings," writes Rolling Stones' Peter Travers. "This is acting of the highest order."

    How Day-Lewis got in Abe Lincoln shape

    "[Spielberg] has outdone Griffith and Ford and then some, crafting a thrilling, tragic and gripping moral tapestry of 19th-century American life, an experience that is at once emotional, visceral and intellectual," trumpets Salon's Andrew O'Hehir.

    "Lincoln, which Spielberg has directed from a lyrical, ingeniously structured screenplay by Tony Kushner, is one of the most authentic biographical dramas I've ever seen," notes Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman. "The movie is grand and immersive."

    "Lincoln is an absorbing, intellectual look at the political machinations involved in abolishing slavery, not an exhaustive biopic about Honest Abe," writes USA Today's Claudia Puig. "Though Lincoln captures the era with precision, there is a modern resonance to the narrative."

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