I was not invited to do the Oscar Symposium at Nat’s site this year, but it has returned, though only Nat and Ed Gonzalez are back from last year. The newbies include Spout’s Karina Longworth, InContention’s Kris Tapley, Antagony and Ecstacy’s Timothy Brayton, and Erik Lundergaard. I poked around a bit and stumbled upon this paragraph, you know, just to stir things up. On the best actor race, Longworth:
To me, Mickey Rourke is the only nominee in the Best Actor category. Sean Penn’s Milk impersonation too often feels like a big show from someone who knows how and when to hit the notes that make critics and Academy voters take note. Both Richard Jenkins and Brad Pitt were better in Burn After Reading (sorry, haters). Again, I didn’t see Frost/Nixon, but in the commercials, Langella sounds like a Muppet. Rourke may not have another performance like this in him, but that’s all the more reason why he deserves to win over Penn, who proved with I Am Sam that he can bait Oscar in his sleep, and will surely do so again real soon.
It makes me think of …. Sigh. When Woody was good.
Timothy Brayton defends Penn:
That said, it amazes me that Penn actually finds something playable in the stock character Black gives him. I don’t know that he’s necessarily playing the same Harvey Milk who lived and walked the streets of San Francisco, but whatever he’s doing, it’s electrifying. I see Penn’s Milk as the male version of Sally Hawkins’s Poppy from Happy-Go-Lucky: confronted by great suffering, he makes the conscious choice to remain happy and optimistic, although Penn shows us a character much closer to the breaking point than Hawkins does. It gives the film’s version of Milk a hidden depth that, as far as I can tell, he completely lacks on the page, which means Penn has done the best kind of acting job: saving the film from its screenplay.