The true story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in
the United States, and his struggles as a gay activist in San Francisco.
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Black
Starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin,
Diego Luna, Alison Pill, Victor Garber, Denis O'Hare,
Joseph Cross, Kelvin Yu
Oscar Wins - Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Original Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Josh Brolin), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Original Score (Danny Elfman)
The United States has a long and unwelcome history with prejudice. We try to ignore it and hope it goes away, but throughout history there have been moments where that prejudice seemed to take on a life of its own. Slavery, the Civil Rights movement, and the homosexual persecution in the 1970's are just some of the times in our nation's history where the dark, seething hatred hidden within some people came out and showed the world who they really were. But where there was darkness, there was always the light that fought against it. As the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, Harvey Milk strived to be that light for the gay community, and his tireless efforts helped advance their cause by decades. This film dramatizes his struggles as a gay activist at a time where being gay was considered immoral and indecent. Milk wanted nothing more than to prove that they were wrong.
Sean Penn portrays Harvey Milk in the most incredible performance of his career that earned him well-deserved Oscar gold. He showed Milk's yearning for the acceptance of himself and his community by bringing such passion and strength to the role. He made sure that the politicians and activists who fought against his cause ended up on the wrong side of history. He made it known that being gay was not a choice, nor was it an afront to God. It was nothing more or less than human. Penn's supporting cast was phenomenal too, especially James Franco and Josh Brolin in roles very much out of their wheelhouse.
I was absolutely floored by Milk. It's a film that I think should be shown in every modern U.S. history class so the children of the nation can know about Harvey Milk and what he fought for. His assassination brought an untimely end to his short-lived political career, but his message didn't die with him. This film will make you smile. It will make you cry. It will make you angry. Milk is humanizing and inspirational, thanks to a timeless performance from Sean Penn. It's impossible not to feel something, but hopefully it makes you open your eyes.