I just saw Gus Van Sant's Milk today and LOVED IT! I especially loved the performances and, jumping on the bandwagon, Sean Penn is the one to beat for the Oscar. His performance was so good, I can't even describe it. Actually, all of the performances were great. Many reviewers are citing Josh Brolin as especially good in the supporting role of Dan White, the supervisor who shot Milk. I preferred James Franco, as Milk's boyfriend Scott Smith, and Emilie Hirsch as Cleve Jones. Mr. Brolin was fine indeed but he just didn't sparkle. Now, they may be pushing Mr. Brolin because he was overlooked in last year's No Country for Old Men. And he may get the Oscar nod because of that.
Throughout the movie, I felt as though I was in the living room with Milk and his associates. It was such a great story of a positive and charismatic man and how he charmed a city politically.
Throughout the film, Mr. Van Sant interspersed scenes of Milk reading a statement into a tape recorder. As he states in the film, the statement is only to played in the event of Milk's assassination. This was the only part I didn't like. I'm not one for narrators and this felt very much like a narrator that we didn't need. It also kept reminding me that Milk was to be assassinated. I didn't want that reminder; I wanted to stay in the living room and marvel at Milk's utter belief in himself and in the movement for as long as possible.
At the very end, as at the end of most bio-pics, Mr. Van Sant tells us what happened after the assassination. In addition, Mr. Van Sant shows us the actor in the film and then shows us a photo of the real person. It was so eerie how similar the actors looked to their real-life counterparts. For me it was a great addition because I often wonder how closely actors look like the real people they are portraying.
Truly, I loved this movie. I'm not sure if it's a Best Picture but I do hope many of the performances are nominated and that Mr. Penn wins. But Oscar or not, as one reviewer said, it's one of the best movies to come along in a while.