Eye on the Oscars: Best Picture

ORIGINS: “Steven was producing the millenium celebration in Washington, D.C., and met (historian) Doris Kearns Goodwin,” Kennedy remembers. “He asked what she was going to do next, and she said, a book on Lincoln. Steven said, ‘Oh, I’ve always thought about doing a movie about Lincoln,’ and that’s what really prompted the conversation.”

FUNDING: “Just like with an indie film, subject matter of this nature today is considered highly risky. Even DreamWorks was uncomfortable trying to finance the entire movie themselves.”

HIGH HURDLES: “Everybody grows up knowing about Lincoln, so what were we going to find in telling this story that was new and unique? I give (screenwriter) Tony (Kushner) enormous credit here for really turning over the soil over and over again in trying to find the story. He has somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 books in his library that he read all or part of.”

DOMINO EFFECT: “I remember the moment when Steven began to recognize in what Tony was writing that maybe the movie was in and around the 13th Amendment. There was tension and surprise and drama inside those handful of days that Lincoln worked so hard to get the amendment passed and end the Civil War. Historically, not many people recognize that was such an important moment in his administration that really crystallized his legacy.”

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