Monday, Feb. 16, 2009

Sean Penn, Milk

If you doubt that prestige movies are often indistinguishable from TV docudramas, attend to this: four of the last six Oscars for Best Actor have gone to men playing historical figures. And Milk is in large part a remake of the 1985's Oscar-winning documentary, The Times of Harvey Milk. Penn's achievement is to tamp down the surly-genius side of his persona and slip inside the skin of Harvey Milk, locating not just the driving messianism of this pioneering gay activist but his gentleness, wit and weakness for a messy love life. This category is thought to be a tossup between Penn and Mickey Rourke. On the one hand, Rourke has the Academy's rooting interest in an underdog. On the other, giving Penn his second Oscar for Milk would allow Hollywood liberals to vote against Proposition 8 one last time. Odds of winning: 2 to 1