Chris Hayes on ‘Lincoln’ by Tony Kushner

Eye on the Oscars: Wrtiers' Roundup

Obviously, the film is an affectionate portrayal. As a piece of filmmaking, I loved the weirdness of “Lincoln”: the way that he was written as this strange, odd, ethereal man oscillating between being removed and being incredibly intense and invested so that he kept everyone around him on his toes. And keeps you, the viewer, on your toes. Lincoln has a determination that doesn’t seem to be lit by moral indignation or compassion for the actual individuals who are at stake. He has his own incredibly idiosyncratic reasons for doing things that he intentionally keeps vague. You can imagine a Spielberg/Kushner collaboration that found some middle ground between the assured sumptuous bigness of Spielberg’s blockbuster vision and Kushner’s very hyper-verbal specific eloquent dramaturgy. But “Lincoln” is a collage of the two. There are moments that feel like the biggest of big-budget sweeping Hollywood epics. And moments that feel incredibly theatrical in their compression and specificity.

Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes, is author of “Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy.”