"Lincoln," which depicts President Abraham Lincoln during the months leading up to and after the passage of the 13th Amendment that freed the slaves in the United States, is history brought to life.

"Lincoln" is astounding on several levels, not the least of which is one of cinema's most memorable performances: Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States.

Daniel Day-Lewis's uncanny and extraordinary performance lingers in the mind's eye: the folksy, flute-like and soft tones of his voice, the faraway gaze of his luminescent eyes, the stooped back carrying the weight of a nation and the carnage of war on his shoulders, a face sensitively and minimally animated to make us peer into the thoughts, beliefs and courage of an intellectual and a man of action, and a lilting gait whose steps seem to float into the mists of history. An Oscar actor nomination for Daniel Day-Lewis is guaranteed.

Look for Oscar nominations in the double-digits for "Lincoln," including supporting actress for Sally Field's fine portrayal of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln; supporting actor for Tommy Lee Jones as cantankerous Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania; director (Steven Spielberg); adapted screenplay (Tony Kushner, working from the superb Doris Kearns Goodwin book, "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln"); score (John Williams); and numerous technical awards, including makeup, of course; as well as cinematography (Janusz Kaminski).

There are solid performances from David Strathairn as Secretary of State William Seward; Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lincoln's son, Robert; Jackie Earle Haley as Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and Hal Holbrook as journalist Francis Preston Blair.

What lofts "Lincoln" above routine cinematic criticism is the story it tells: A great captain guiding the ship of state, the importance of the United States' federal system of government and its three branches (legislative, executive, judicial) and the goodness harbored in the hearts of most Americans who, when given the facts, usually do the right thing.

"Lincoln," at two and one-half hours, is longer than the wait for some voters in line at polling places for the recent U.S. presidential election. With "Lincoln," the results are well worth it.

"Lincoln," MPAA rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language; Genre: Biography, Drama, History; Run time: 2 hours, 30 minutes: Distributed by DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "Lincoln" was filmed in Richmond, Petersburg, and New Millennium Studios, Va.

Box Office, Dec. 1: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" continued at No. 1 for a third week in a row, $17.4 million, $254.5 million, three weeks. "Skyfall" was again No. 2, $17 million, $246 million, four weeks. "Lincoln" was again No. 3, $13.5 million, $83.6 million, four weeks.

4. "Rise of the Guardians," $13.5 million, $48.9 million, two weeks; 5. "Life of Pi," $12 million, $48.3 million, two weeks; 6.. "Wreck-It Ralph," $7 million; $158.2 million, five weeks; 7. "Killing Them Softly," $7 million, opening; 8. "Red Dawn," $6.5 million, $31.3 million, two weeks; 9. "Flight," $4.5 million, $81.5 million, five weeks; 10. "The Collection," $3.4 million, opening.

Unreel, Nov. 30:

"Hyde Park on Hudson," R: Bill Murray portrays FDR in the biographically-based film about a weekend in 1939 when the King and Queen of the United Kingdom visit upstate New York. Laura Linney and Olivia Williams co-star.

"Playing for Keeps," PG-13: Gerald Butler stars as a former sports star coaching his son's soccer team. Jessica Biel and Dennis Quaid co-star in the comedy.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.com. Email Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com [1] and on Facebook

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes