Milk

Alternate Title: Politics as Usual
2008 Nominee

Sean Penn plays gay activist Harvey Milk, a man whose voice spoke for countless others. After meeting Scott (James Franco, seen here as a non-douche and a non-stoner, so don’t let that deter you), Harvey and his new beau pick up and head to San Francisco.

San Francisco in the 70s was just getting its reputation for hosting proud members of the gay community. While it was their haven, it was certainly not safe. Legal and moral objections were raised against them at every turn and as a result, Harvey took to the political scene. He became the first openly gay man to hold political office in the country.

A workaholic with a message that affected many, Harvey was plagued by death threats and ghosts of lost lovers; in fact, several of his partners committed suicide – something Harvey believed was partially his fault, due to his fear of coming out of the closet.

While I agree with the message Harvey and his followers preached and believe that politicians out to destroy civil rights are really just demonizing democracy, I still don’t like politics. The outcome of Harvey Milk’s time as a supervisor was heartbreaking and ultimately, I don’t love stories that have unhappy endings.

However, he’s a person I didn’t know a thing about until I watched this film and that’s a genuine shame. Political activists – especially those fighting on behalf of human rights – really ought to be recognized more readily. With the fucking laugh-riot our country is slowly becoming, it’s easy to see why now, people like Harvey Milk deserve a megaphone and a place behind the podium.

It’s nice to say we’re born with unalienable rights, but we are not born with them.
We fight for them. And the fight is definitely not over yet.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Milk was nominated for Best Picture in 2008, but did the Academy get it right?

Up in the Air

Alternate Title: Going Nowhere Fast, with George Clooney
2009 Nominee

Everyone in this movie has straight, white teeth and false smiles and the whole thing feels like it’s an elaborate ad encouraging you to stay at the Hilton.  They even make a big deal about Ryan Bingham (Clooney) being a Hilton Honors member, but you know what? It’s free to join.
I know.
I’m a member.

Ryan Bingham is the unrealistically handsome guy who makes a living by firing people. Yes, that’s correct. He takes away other people’s livings for a living. You know who else does that? The Grim Reaper.
He does his due diligence by using money paid out by his own company to fly around the country and fire people whose bosses can’t seem to fathom the cojones to do so themselves. He’s acquiring miles and membership points and has a hard-on for loyalty and status the entire time.

Toothy McHandsomePants meets a lady named Alex (Vera Farmiga) who’s equally smarmy on one of his trips, but the movie catches a second wind with the appearance of Natalie (Anna Kendrick), who although she’s a member of the Hollywood Dental Delights club herself is at least a teeny, tiny bit believable because she’s intimidated by George Clooney and actually cries once in the movie. She’s trying to learn how to do what Bingham does, but has the brilliant idea to involve the internet so that people can get fired over Skype or FaceTime.
Who can’t resonate with wanting to ruin someone’s day with the help of the internet and get paid for it?
I know what you’re thinking, but I don’t get paid to write this blog. (Yet).

Bingham decides to go to his sister’s wedding in Omaha with Alex. That part almost feels like a different movie entirely because one outburst from Natalie and one fun romp around his old high school with Alex turns Bingham into a softie who wants to settle in Omaha and abandon his status. It’s a sickeningly fast character change and I don’t buy it for a second. He’s still George Clooney, who for as handsome as people say he is, I would still rather listen to him read me a bedtime story than look at him because he always looks vaguely bored, like it’s not a challenge to show up and be George Clooney every day.
I don’t understand that kind of life, dude.

The whole sorry mess culminates with random shit collapsing in on itself like a dying star. Natalie quits via text message and Alex, as it turns out, is even scummier than Bingham.

The moral here? I don’t know. It’s about a bunch of sad, sorry beautiful people pretending they’re not empty inside. The characters that are most relatable are the characters who are getting fucking fired.

It’s an unrealistic movie trying desperately to make you feel for characters that have no soul.

Now it’s Your Turn…
Up in the Air was nominated for Best Picture in 2009, but did the Academy get it right?