Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 44
  2. Negative: 0 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Jan 10, 2013
    100
    As unexpected as it is intelligent, thanks to virtuoso work from Spielberg and Kushner, Lincoln is landmark filmmaking, while Day-Lewis is so authentic he pulls off that stovepipe.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 18, 2012
    88
    Lincoln paints a powerful and compelling portrait of the man who has become an icon. We don't need to see more of his life to understand how rare a figure he was - this window is more than sufficient.
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 16, 2012
    100
    Spielberg has never made a more sophisticated and less sentimental picture. He and writer Tony Kushner craft it like a historical thriller.
  4. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 16, 2012
    100
    What plays out is something like CSPAN 1865. That is, it's dense, talky stuff at times -- particularly at its start, as the film takes a good 15 minutes to gain traction -- but also highly rewarding and instructive.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 15, 2012
    88
    Never mind a few misguided casting choices; Lincoln is exceptionally good, elevated by a preternatural star turn, and by the energy and invention its director displays in telling a story that doesn't rely on action and special effects.
  6. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Nov 15, 2012
    90
    If it sounds like so much backroom politicking, it is. But it's exceptionally interesting, entertaining backroom politicking.
  7. 88
    Lincoln is directed by Steven Spielberg but, to his great credit, few will mistake this for a Steven Spielberg film. Rather, it's a Tony Kushner film, the playwright who conjured up the wordy but intricately layered script; and it's a Daniel Day-Lewis film, the actor who so richly embodies the iconic title role.
  8. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 9, 2012
    100
    Whatever moment of inspiration caused Spielberg to cast her (Sally Field) as Mary Todd Lincoln, it was sheer genius, because this is a role that demands bigness.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 8, 2012
    100
    It blends cinematic Americana with something grubbier and more interesting than Americana, and it does not look, act or behave like the usual perception of a Spielberg epic. It is smaller and quieter than that.
  10. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 8, 2012
    100
    The experience of watching Daniel Day-Lewis in this role is nothing less than thrilling. This is Lincoln. No need for a time machine, there he is.
  11. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Nov 8, 2012
    90
    This is Day-Lewis' movie, and he does with the meditative inner stillness of his character a wonderful thing - he finds a type of heroism that runs counter to all of the usual showy movie signifiers of such a quality.
  12. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 8, 2012
    100
    Instead of a grand tableau vivant that lays out the great man and his great deeds like so many too-perfect pieces of waxed fruit, Spielberg brings the leader and viewers down to ground level.
  13. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 8, 2012
    88
    Through this very specific look at a critical time in Lincoln's presidency, Kushner, Spielberg and Day-Lewis work together to present an honest look at America's most revered statesman. Kushner finds an artful way to weave in the texts of the Gettysburg Address and the 13th Amendment, as well as a creative way to present Lincoln's assassination.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 8, 2012
    100
    Mr. Day-Lewis works famously, and phenomenally, from the inside out. The mystery at the core of his gorgeous performance, which is enhanced by Mr. Kushner's script, has to do with his masterly grasp of Lincoln's quicksilver spirit.
  15. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 8, 2012
    90
    There is nothing bravura or overly emotional about Spielberg's direction here, but the impeccable filmmaking is no less impressive for being quiet and to the point.
  16. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 8, 2012
    88
    It makes politics exciting again.
  17. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 8, 2012
    100
    Go see this movie. Take your children, even though they may occasionally be confused or fidgety. Boredom and confusion are also part of democracy, after all. Lincoln is a rough and noble democratic masterpiece - an omen, perhaps, that movies for the people shall not perish from the earth.
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 8, 2012
    88
    The result, glitches and all, is a great American movie.
  19. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 7, 2012
    100
    Rarely has a film attended more carefully to the details of politics.
  20. Reviewed by: Chris Packham
    Nov 7, 2012
    90
    This Lincoln, stunningly portrayed by Spielberg and Day-Lewis, is real and relatable and so, so cool.
  21. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 6, 2012
    100
    Defiantly intellectual, complex and true to the shifting winds of real-world governance, Lincoln is not the movie that this election season has earned-but one that a more perfect union can aspire to.
  22. 90
    Lincoln is too sharply focused to deserve the pejorative "biopic" label. It's splendid enough to make me wish Spielberg would make a "prequel" to this instead of another Indiana Jones picture.
  23. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Nov 4, 2012
    100
    The movie is grand and immersive. It plugs us into the final months of Lincoln's presidency with a purity that makes us feel transported as though by time machine.
  24. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Nov 2, 2012
    88
    Steven Spielberg's film may further the heroism so associated with its subject, and favor a liberal viewpoint that leers down at the Confederates, but it's no bleeding-heart glamorization.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 578 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 168
  1. Nov 24, 2012
    4
    I must be in the minority, but I was very disappointed with "Lincoln". I really enjoy history and biography, had read Goodwin's book and had heard almost unanimous praise for the movie. However, I thought the film was tedious, the script very stilted, and the acting rather mundane. If this had been a movie without the hype, the well known cast and director, and the subject, I am sure more of the critics would have panned it. I kept looking at my watch and wondering when it was going to show all the great things that had been written about it. A real disappointment. Full Review »
  2. Nov 27, 2012
    3
    If you look at many of the good reviews, you will see the problem, in my mind, with this movie. It is a bit too slow, too monotone, and simply too stuffy. There could have been so much more color and life. I think we should have seen different perspectives, such as from the angle of a simple working person and from the angle of the south. The movie leaves out Lincoln's great speeches, making only brief references. The movie leaves out the assassination, and what we know about who did it and why. The real death blow to the movie, for me, was the lack of vigor in why and what they were fighting for. After all, huge numbers of americans died. So, for me the movie was a dud. I think a lot of people are caught up in the moment. By the way, the supporting acting was GREAT, and I would give an award to Sally Fields. Full Review »
  3. Dec 3, 2012
    8
    Spielberg & Tony Kushner managed to to transfer us into the mind of Lincoln giving us a historical thriller that will soon become a "Classic".The film has the two "battlefields" of war and politics that keep us on the edge of our seats.As it goes for Daniel Day-Lewis(Lincoln) I have only one word: "Breathtaking". Full Review »