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Feb 09

Reasons Why Milk Might Win Some Oscars

FT6 comments • 292 views

* I don’t think it will, by the way. Its a good, but pretty bogstandard, biopic which stands or falls – like most biopics – on how interesting you find the facts of Harvey Milk’s life. And in this case its Milk’s life from his 40th birthday, missing out a previous forty years of closeted homosexuality. It stands better as a testament as “only thirty years ago” monument to bigotry, and is serious and all. But Oscar winner? Here’s how.

-Its about California. Its about Californian politics. Where do most members of the Academy live? Why did Crash win best picture a few years ago? Cos it was set in, on and around LA and disquieted every Academy member who felt a bit bad about having a Latino maid. Everyone in the academy will at least know one gay person. Ergo, Milk.

-Either that or they will be gay and this film will have massive personal relevance for them. Tick that box.

-California plus homosexuality plus politics. That equals Proposition 8. The academy really likes to think it is important so a vote for Milk is a vote against Prop 8.

-Considering the average age of the academy members, this will be a political struggle from their living memory and one they may well have taken a large part in. I’ve always said the most likely Oscar winner will be “Its Hard Being An AMPAS Member” but this comes close.

-They feel a bit embarrassed about giving Sean Penn best actor for Mystic River now (rightly so). Oddly the response in this case is often to give a second Oscar (see Tom Hanks) to show the first decision was correct. And Penn is good in this lead role. Whilst there have been criticisms that Hanks plays Harvey Milk as a slightly queenish lightweight using a fey lisp in lieu of characterisation, much of this is justified by that being a pretty good description of the real Harvey Milk’s style*.

-Its a straight man playing a gay guy. Surely that’s more of a stretch than a boxer playing a wrestler. The academy has precedent here (see Tom Hanks).

All of that said, I don’t think it will win anything. There is now a significant proportion of the Academy who are female, and frankly I doubt they are going to vote for a film set in recent history that can only muster up one significant female character.

*Ha ha, in Polish the Director’s name is Gusa Van Santa!

Comments

  1. 1
    USA Boxing | Boxing Results on 3 Feb 2009 #

    […] Reasons Why Milk Might Win Some Oscars […]

  2. 2
    jamesf on 4 Feb 2009 #

    As an American (who has AMPAS family members, no less) I feel qualified to offer the following counter-arguments:

    – while “Milk” takes place in San Francisco, Academy voters all live in LA, which likes to politely pretend that SF doesn’t exist

    – the voters skew towards “old” by a heavy margin, making them disproportionately homophobic

    – “Crash” won only because of said homophobia; everyone was so terrified that “Brokeback” was going to win that they led a HUGE advertising push towards AMPAS voters in support of “Crash” as an alternative, therefore weighting the balance heavily in that direction. Nobody cared about (or had seen) “Crash” before this. I still remember the headlines the next day: “Brokeback Mountain Loses Oscar”

  3. 3
    jamesf on 4 Feb 2009 #

    As an American (who has AMPAS family members, no less) I feel qualified to offer the following counter-arguments:

    – while “Milk” takes place in San Francisco, Academy voters all live in LA, which likes to politely pretend that SF doesn’t exist

    – the voters skew towards “old” by a heavy margin, making them disproportionately homophobic

    – “Crash” won only because of said homophobia; everyone was so terrified that “Brokeback” was going to win that they led a HUGE advertising push towards AMPAS voters in support of “Crash” as an alternative, therefore weighting the ballots heavily in that direction. Nobody cared about (or had seen) “Crash” before this. I still remember the headlines the next day: “Brokeback Mountain Loses Oscar”

  4. 4
    Pete Baran on 4 Feb 2009 #

    This seems pretty conclusive to me, all good reasons why Milk will not win ANY Oscars! (I had a feeling that LA residents shunned San Fran so its good to have that confirmed).

    Your explanation for the frankly bizarre Crash win does also seem to fit all known facts and has the sad ring of truth.

  5. 5
    Matthew on 6 Feb 2009 #

    My money is still on Milk if you’d like a small gentleman’s wager on the side. Though, er, perhaps I should see it before I do anything too hasty.

    The idea of any of the other Best Picture noms taking it is too depressing for words, except maybe Frost/Nixon which I know nothing about, and should probably also go see.

  6. 6
    l on 15 Jul 2009 #

    @”Ha ha, in Polish the Director’s name is Gusa Van Santa!” nope, Gusa Van Santa- this is a declension. ” the best film of Gus Van Sant”

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