Friday, February 13, 2009

Some Men Are More Equal Than Others

Milk Movie Poster
Originally uploaded by monikalel42
"All men are created equal. No matter how hard you try, you can never erase those words." That quote from gay activist Harvey Milk was one of the most moving scenes in Milk, the film on his life and death. Milk´s bold stand on equality led finally to his assassination. Some of his positions sound radical still in 2009 like the strategy that only by showing that we all have gay friends, teachers and family members, you truly pave the way for general support for equality.

Gus van Sant´s film is a great act in showing the struggle Milk and his peers went through, how far we as societies have come from those days (homosexuality is largely decriminalised) and, sadly, how far we still are from living up to those words (Proposition 8 passed in California just a few months back). And in the Obama era, it is good to remember that he was not the first one coining a phrase like:"You gotta give them hope."

The Academy Awards take place in a week or so and I have now seen three of the Best Picture nominees: Milk, Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire. Even before seeing Benjamin Button and The Reader, I dare to state the wish that these three films would win the main prizes. As much as The Reader looks into guilt and human responsibility, I feel the other three films are ones that need more the boost of the win: Milk is a powerful caption of the human sacrifices on the road towards true equality and one of the people who have paved way for all minorities. Slumdog Millionaire captures the aspiration, diversity, celebration and inequality called India and is also one of the rare films that do not need a white man telling a story of Asia or Africa (read: The Last King of Scotland etc.). And finally, Frost/Nixon shakes us awake of the corrupting influence of power and shows what is really the power of journalism.

I would dare to make the following wishes:
Best Picture: Milk
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Frank Langella or Sean Penn
Best Director: Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)
Best Actress in a leading or supporting role are tricky as I have seen none of the films and actor in a supporting role is hard to judge before seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Shannon.


Anonymous said...

I would have to say that it's going to be a tough call between Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke for the Best Actor Rourke is excellent in The Wrestler (I recommend the film!)...but on the other hand, Milk is a very important film at the moment, and Sean Penn is beyond excellent, so it's anyone's guess who's going to get it...

As for Best supporting Actor, I think Michael Shannon is simply genious in "Revolutionary Road", portraying the scientist-gone-mad, being still the only one seeing the true nature of things. It could be, though, that the late Heath Ledger will win...

And the Best Actress award belongs to Kate Winslet, Meryl Street has won plenty already and Doubt is not a film worth seeing...

Tommi Laitio said...

Hey Anonymous (wondering here the true identity of the commentator),

thanks for the tips. I guess The Wrestler is a film worth seeing. I would however hope Sean Penn wins as the film (for its subject) deserves the boost given by an Oscar. Americans and others need the reminder.

Kate Winslet I can live with, she is always fantastic and at least according to reviews, Doubt is not that brilliant. But then again, couldn´t you use the argument on Winslet as you did on Streep (has won enough already)?