Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner's LINCOLN has, if I'm recalling correctly at this late hour, brought in more money at the North American box office than either SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK or ARGO (which won Sunday's Best Picture Academy Award--and, ironically, had a touch of the more brash, less Prestigious 70s/early 80s Spielberg). And it wasn't treated with consensus disdain like 2011's Spielberg prestige, preordained-Oscar film WAR HORSE (which I haven't seen).
But now the what-went-wrong-with-LINCOLN articles seem to be starting; the Hollywood Elsewhere site has a link to a piece in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
And now, I'm turning the floor over to HE commenter "Kit" and his-or-her appraisal as to why Spielberg, Kushner and LINCOLN went home Oscarless:
Spielberg's problem is he still believes, as he always has, that winning the Oscar is the ultimate goal for any movie. He grew up with Oscar and worshipping the system. This year he absolutely tried too hard to win, and made it ridiculously obvious how much he wanted Oscar recognition again. There was no subtlety in the campaigning, and it Killed Lincoln (to borrow from Bill O'Reilly). 10 reasons why Lincoln lost:
1. The Premise = engineered for Oscar - romanticized historical time period and iconic American figure meet acclaimed director and Time Magazine's "World Greatest Actor"; Spielberg's proclaimed "passion project," chasing DDL for years
2. Endless TV spots (to country music, which mischaracterized the movie and boosted box office---box office doesn't mean everyone liked the movie), very intimate 60 minutes coverage with Spielberg's parents and how he doesn't want to do any more mindless action movies (riiiiiiiight), 1.5-hour Oprah-lovefest
3. Going to Washington to get government support and approval of the movie, when Zero Dark Thirty had none. While not making himself as accessible to voters: the Santa Barbara Film Festival example. Affleck schmoozed with everyone, while the next night DDL and co. kept themselves isolated on the second floor.
4. OVERPACKAGED Lincoln screener: bound script, beautiful photographs with historical context, John Williams' soundtrack = this film is important, VOTE FOR ME. This cannot be overemphasized. And, of course, the simple fact the film didn't play nearly as well on screener than in front of an audience.
5. TAKING the role of Goliath over David: NOT establishing the film as an underdog AT ALL, constantly promoting the across the board "Oscar-winning" cast and crew rather than positioning the film in a way that would inspire voters.
6. INTENTIONALLY putting Robopocalypse "on hold" just before the awards to not take away from his "prestige," important filmmaking.
7. Spielberg is snubbed for BAFTA, but his main frontrunner competition Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck magically disappeared in the Best Director category...hmmm...were some directors lobbied or paid off Harvey Weinstein-style?? I wouldn't be surprised to learn Spielberg's team played dirty this season, like Affleck's and Harvey's....but of course when Spielberg does it it turns off voters.
8. BRINGING Bill Clinton to the Golden Globes to present how IMPORTANT and TIMELY Lincoln is. One of the Killing Blows, and a clear example of Spielberg abusing his power to influence and manipulate voters
9. 60 Minutes: taking a second feature slot that was utterly unnecessary and contributed nothing new on the movie, 3 months after it came out
10. And finally, his misguided belief that the important movie about American history and one of our most significant figures DESERVED to win since it could teach all the people and the kiddies the history (and how self-important his film was). This does not a great film make.
It's really sad for me that this man has no conception that the great films, the ones considered masterpieces that hold up for many many years are NOT the films that win at the Academy Awards. Steven Spielberg: winning another directing Oscar will not make you the greatest director ever. Can someone get it in his head that some of the strongest filmmakers NEVER won Oscars?? Interviewers like Barbara Walters were telling him this before he finally won. You have played to the Hollywood system YOUR ENTIRE CAREER, and lost your own, singular voice as an artist in the process of engineering films for box office and manipulating audiences. You have been chasing Oscar FOR YEARS(!!!) after E.T. lost (which he has admitted utterly burned him), with Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Schindler's List, Amistad, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, War Horse, and now Lincoln---and in every single instance your film came up short in one way or another, often ravaging the original source material. I know that it ABSOLUTELY burns Spielberg that Martin Scorsese is more revered and called America's greatest living filmmaker, and that NONE OF HIS FILMS were cited in Sight and Sound's top 100 greatest films. I would love to see him tackle a genre or subject that WOULD challenge him. Submit a film to a festival again, go after the Palm D'Or even if you come up short. Do something vastly different that will surprise film circles in a good way. Another thriller. AND NO MORE IMPORTANT HISTORY MOVIES.