Secret Lincoln Screening Generates Big Buzz

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DreamWorks Pictures / 20th Century Fox

The Lincoln biopic from Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the President, got a surprise premiere last night at the New York Film Festival. The film’s stars came out for the event, according to the New York Daily News, and Spielberg spoke to the audience at a Q&A after the screening, explaining his decision not to focus on Civil War battle scenes and his focus on the importance of historical detail.

The movie’s not out in wide release until Nov. 16 and those who made it into the screening—which was open to the public—were under oath not to review the film yet, but the O-word is already being thrown around anyway. “Based on my own evaluation of the film and its prospects, I expect it will be a sure shot for Academy Award nominations for best picture, best director, and best actor…Lincoln appears to be Oscar-bait incarnate,” writes Scott Feinberg of the Hollywood ReporterDeadline also pointed out (last Thursday, when the site broke the news of the surprise event) that a similar stealth-NYFF tactic worked wonders for the Oscar-nominated Hugo last year.

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But it’s not like the buzz is a surprise. In addition to Day-Lewis and Spielberg, the movie stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln, alongside a catalogue of respected actors: Tommy Lee Jones, Jackie Earle Haley, John Hawkes, David Strathairn and more. It’s got a serious-movie length (about two and a half hours) and writing bona fides from playwright Tony Kushner on the screenplay and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on the subject matter. Plus, you know: Lincoln.

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