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: Kate Stables
    Jan 11, 2013
    80
    Steeped in the bitter political divisions of the Civil War, Spielberg's thrilling film about hardwon freedoms is immersed in its own time, but speaks eloquently to ours.
  2. 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.
  3. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jan 1, 2013
    80
    Lincoln does sometimes get a little sappy around the edges. Though his project here is clearly one of conscious self-restraint, Spielberg can't resist the occasional opportunity for patriotic tear-jerking, usually signaled by a swell of John Williams' symphonic score. But in between, there are long stretches that are as quiet, contemplative, and austere as anything Spielberg has ever done.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 15, 2012
    75
    Spielberg manages to give us a Lincoln for our times, inspiringly heroic but demonstrably human.
  8. 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.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Nov 15, 2012
    50
    For his complex portrayal, Day-Lewis is likely to have roses thrown at his feet, but for the dreadful film in which he's enslaved, emancipated onlookers will reach for the grapes of wrath.
  10. 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.
  11. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Nov 14, 2012
    67
    His (Spielberg) is an old-fashioned style of moviemaking that can produce soaring entertainment or, alternately, a fussed-over theatricality. Minute to minute, Lincoln moves between these extremes.
  12. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 14, 2012
    75
    Lincoln is like a thoroughly researched poli-sci term paper come to life, with interesting personal material about the participants relegated to footnotes.
  13. Reviewed by: Drew Taylor
    Nov 13, 2012
    50
    There's something deeply poetic about Lincoln making his way through a changed nation to meet his demise. Such poetry is nowhere to be found in Lincoln.
  14. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Nov 12, 2012
    70
    Lincoln, written by Tony Kushner, directed by Steven Spielberg, and derived in part from Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals," is a curious beast. The title suggests a monolith, as if going to this movie were tantamount to visiting Mt. Rushmore, and the running time, of two and a half hours, prepares you for an epic. Yet the film is a cramped and ornery affair, with Spielberg going into lockdown mode even more thoroughly than he did in "The Terminal."
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 9, 2012
    75
    Whenever Jones is on screen, the film's energy level kicks up several notches, an indication, I think, that Spielberg otherwise overdoses on directorial decorum.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 8, 2012
    75
    It's a must-see for Daniel Day-Lewis' charismatic, subtly shaded performance as Lincoln - and an even richer one by Tommy Lee Jones.
  25. 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.
  26. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Nov 8, 2012
    80
    This Lincoln isn't an abstracted, infallible ideal, but rather a deeply conflicted, often lonely leader simply trying to do the right thing - even if that means few wrong things along on the way.
  27. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 8, 2012
    80
    The history lesson in Steven Spielberg's austere, engrossing Lincoln is less about the revered President himself but his method for justice.
  28. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 8, 2012
    88
    It makes politics exciting again.
  29. 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.
  30. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Nov 8, 2012
    80
    This high-IQ sermon is long but never lazy. Renouncing his tendency to make every movie take emotional flight, Spielberg sticks to the story as Kushner has artfully compressed it. Lincoln is brain food and, at another pivotal moment in American political history, an instructive feast.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 589 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 21 out of 174
  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 »