Not three weeks after the debut of the first official trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a Best Picture play so ingeniously conceived that Clint Eastwood immediately took a sledgehammer to the typewriter upon which he was outlining the unannounced third installment of his Flags of Our Fathers/Letters From Iwo Jima franchise while rasping with anguish, “Why did I have to pick that bullshit, used-up war?,” DreamWorks released a newer, better, more exciting effort after last night’s presidential debates.
And they may have changed the Oscar game.
While Lincoln‘s previous promotional efforts raised more troubling questions about its awards-worthiness than they answered (Is this movie going to be in black and white? How much beard is too much beard? And, of course, Are we OK with the voice, I don’t care that Daniel Day-Lewis got to listen to secret wax-cylinder recordings of Civil War–era Cabinet meetings stored in a secret vault a mile beneath the National Archives, shouldn’t the Great Emancipator bring a lot more low-end to the voice game?), this new trailer attempts to wipe out all the doubters by detonating a five-megaton catchphrase bomb in its closing moments:
I am the President of the United States of America, CLOTHED IN IMMENSE POWER!
It’s as if Day-Lewis isn’t striking the table in righteous anger at 1:52, he’s actually slapping a button labeled IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, END BEST PICTURE RACE RIGHT NOW. You don’t hear the voice after that, you hear only the gentle whistling of the wind through the oddly peaceful aftermath of a decimated battlefield.
The Master, already a divisive, flawed contender, simply cannot compete in this particular arena; yes, we’ve all come to cherish a hearty “Pig fuck!” from time to time, but you can’t superimpose that over a red-faced Philip Seymour Hoffman on a For Your Consideration ad, not when every Academy voter is going to receive a life-size Abraham Lincoln statue, defiantly swaddled in an authentic, war-weathered American flag, with CLOTHED IN IMMENSE POWER etched on its base.
The game is changed.