Watching the sordid deals that take place behind the scenes in Congress should be disheartening, but when Congress finally does act to do the right thing, the end result is nevertheless inspirational. The messy process of passing a bill through the House of Representatives provides the central drama in the new movie Lincoln. In this case the bill in question is a rather important one; it became the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery. Against the advice of many in his cabinet, Lincoln wanted to get that bill through a lame duck session even before a more friendly Congress for his party would be seated, because he wanted emancipation irrevocably in place before the war came to an end, and the Confederate states would be re-admitted to the Union. To accomplish that, Lincoln used every means at his disposal, including the promise of patronage jobs to opposition Congressmen who had just lost their seats in the election. James Spader provides entertaining comic relief as the leader of the team that uses any means necessary to secure the necessary votes for the Thirteenth Amendment.
Lincoln also had to make sure that the radical Republicans did not prevent passage of the bill by pushing too hard for their ultimate objective of complete equality. Lincoln persuades Thaddeus Stevens, played by Tommy Lee Jones, that he must deny his own core beliefs and goals, in order to secure the interim goal of ending slavery.
Daniel Day-Lewis brings Lincoln to life. You can feel the weight on his shoulders of the terrible decisions Lincoln had to make, as well as see the indominable will Lincoln brought to bear to accomplish his object, and the flexibility, trickery and humor he needed to get it done.