Watched this in the afternoon, thinking I could use a good nap. Ended up not being nearly as stodgy as I feared. What could've been a corny and dry history lesson is turned into a political potboiler thanks to Tony Kushner's script. There is corn, mostly provided by Spielberg's staging and John William's score full of pomp and majesty (lots of distant horns on the soundtrack). But Kushner's script, which avoids white-washing and canonizing, keeps the director in check. Daniel Day-Lewis gives a ghostly performance (he sounds eerily like Walter Brennan), but most of the all-star cast does what they can to humanize bewigged and pantaloon-clad daguerreotypes. What comes through loud and clear is that the back-room deal bullshit that goes on in Washington was always there, and that sticking to your principles in that town will one way or another eventually kill you. Change the names and shave off the muttonchops and this could've been set in present day.