Rated 3.0

Writer Tony Kushner and director Steven Spielberg adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, one of the indispensable books on the Civil War. Alas, they dispense with all but five of Goodwin's 916 pages, concentrating on the process of guiding the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery) through Congress—a process where Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) leaves the wheeling and dealing to a party operative (James Spader). This makes Lincoln actually a supporting role, but there's no making Day-Lewis a supporting actor: He's Lincoln to the life, and his performance—far more than Kushner's dramatic fripperies or Spielberg's reverent listen-to-these-golden-words staging—is the best reason to see the movie. As Mary Lincoln, Sally Field overacts in an ill-written role.