I haven't said there's no merit to whatever they've made in the sound department. It's just that by every description in reviews it's a stately drama set mostly in congress, offices and inside the Lincolns' home, filled with face-to-face discussions. That, simply, isn't showy and doesn't sound like a very challenging thing to do in sound. It's like, say, the makeup for The Artist last year: yes, it had lots of work made to make it look like a movie from the 20's, and it was filmed in color and then processed in B&W which was an added difficulty for the makeup artists. Did it made the cut despite the general sweep? Nope. It wasn't showy. Yes, there have been other movies with less showy sound mixing making the cut, but in weaker years and they all had showier elements.
This explains better than I can ever do the challenges faced by sound deisgners in Shakespeare in Love, for instance:
Meanwhile, all Michael Mann movies have very elaborated soundscapes and The Insider was filled with scenes of the protagonist's paranoia of being chased where he heard every sound amplified (also, lol, the sound of every cigerette burning amplified to the 9th degree).
I guess you got me with A Few Good Men, 20 years ago, but that's a movie I remember being incredibly loud when I saw it at theatres (yes, I'm that old). Every court sound was huge, every violence outburst was big, and everybody screamed a lot.
Now, of course all those things may happen in Lincoln too and I'm sure they've faced many particular things like those faced in, say Shakespeare in Love, but that's not the point. In abstract, I'd also say a Spielberg period drama that will be a Top 5 BP contender with a couple of battlefield scenes would make the cut. But when I see the competition, and I read the reviews that say it's mostly inwards and talky, almost stagey, well, that's not really the idea of a sound mixing nominee. Shakespeare in Love or The Insider were everything but stagey or driven just by big hcunks of one-on-one dialogue set inside a room. howver, not every historical drama by Spielberg that's a Top 5 contender is a slam-dunk sound nominee: Munich and Color Purple weren't. And they are way more sound-showy than what Lincoln looks by reviews.