Sunday, February 22, 2009

Milk, The Reader, and Slumdog Millionaire

Brooke and I spent yesterday at the movies. Last year, we saw all five best picture nominees on the day before the Oscars. This year, we saw three of the five (we'd already seen Frost/Nixon and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). So, with the exception of a long afternoon break during which Brooke picked out a Prom dress, we watched good movies all day!

Milk--let's be honest--has a lot of gay people doing gay things in it. There's flirting, kissing, eating cake in bed, and so on, and it's all men, men, men. So, call us conservative, ignorant, bigoted, homophobic, or whatever you want to call us, but there was a definite gross-out factor with this film. So, from our perspective, the greatest thing about it was that it overcame that gross-out factor and we were able to really enjoy it. It's uplifting, and based on a true story, of course. Sean Penn's acting was certainly deserving of his nomination. Homosexuality is sinful, and repulsive to us regardless of how it's presented, but even Harvey Milk is right when he tells a suicidal gay teenager, "God does not hate you."

The Reader is certainly the underdog in the Best Picture category, a little bit like Atonement was last year. If Kate Winslet doesn't earn her first Oscar for this performance I'll be surprised. This film includes Nazi concentration camps, law professors, vomit, full frontal nudity, classic literature, and a Holocaust survivor's New York penthouse. Knowing nothing about it beforehand, it kept us captivated.

Slumdog Millionaire is easily the best movie of these three, and also should easily be the Best Picture winner. I absolutely loved Benjamin Button, but Slumdog has it beaten. The portrait it paints of the lives of its destitute characters in Mumbai, and the story itself--can it be true? A happy ending!--make it our favorite. We'll be rooting for it tonight when the awards are handed out.

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