"But after what happened with “Brokeback” on Oscar night, does “Milk” have a better shot at the top prize and does homophobia among Academy members remain a concern? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will hand out its Oscar statuettes — film’s highest prize — on Sunday, Feb. 22.
“Brokeback Mountain” had won nearly every award it could have prior to the Oscars, including Great Britain’s top film prize and the Golden Globe for best picture.
“Milk” was not nominated for best picture in the 2009 Golden Globe awards, which were handed out Jan. 11. “Milk” star Sean Penn snagged a nomination for lead actor in a drama, but the Golden Globe went to Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler.”
Michael Musto, the gay journalist and gossip columnist at the Village Voice, appeared in a video in December on Gold Derby, film critic Tom O’Neil’s web site that predicts top showbiz awards, saying that homophobia was a reason why “Brokeback” didn’t win. He thinks that “Milk’s” subject matter may make it even more difficult to overcome Hollywood homophobia.“I feel that ‘Milk’ is a far less apologetic film than ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was”, he says. “It’s about defiantly proud gays in a whole other time period, directed by an out gay, written by an out gay.”
Musto said that the awards “Brokeback” picked up before the Oscars were given outside the Academy, and not by those members of the Academy who live in a “bubble in L.A.” “Critics live all over the place and the Golden Globes are given by foreign journalists,” he says. “It’s got to be something about California, maybe the sun rots their brains or something.”
BUT NOT EVERYONE BLAMES HOMOPHOBIA FOR the “Brokeback” loss. Neil Giuliano is president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, an organization that tracks gay visibility in the media. GLAAD last month nominated “Milk” in the outstanding film, wide release category for its 20th annual GLAAD Media Awards.
Many agree that “Milk” and “Brokeback” are very different films.
Jensen added that it was “a confluence of an amazing short story by E. Annie Proulx, an amazing director in Ang Lee, a fantastic script by Larry McMurtry, and these amazing performances from Heath [Ledger] and Jake [Gyllenhaal] that were extraordinary in telling a story that hasn’t been told before in a Hollywood movie.”
“BROKEBACK” SHATTERED BARRIERS, WHICH made “Milk” more accessible to mainstream viewers, Cullen says.
“I think the whole Proposition 8 thing could work in his favor, and tilt something like the best actor award to him”, Jensen says.
“It could be the Academy making some sort of statement about indirectly supporting the gay community, and giving awards to either Penn or Dustin Lance Black for the screenplay.”
Musto says that the Academy has “traditionally always given acting Oscars for straight people playing gay.”
“They’ve never had a problem with that and think it’s a big act of courage, when it’s actually just an actor intelligently seizing on a very good role,” he says.
CULLEN, JENSEN AND MUSTO ALL ARE PICKING “Slumdog Millionaire” for best picture. But being the underdog may give “Milk” an advantage. ‘Milk’ could be a surprise, and it’s better that way, so there’s no backlash,” Cullen says. “‘Brokeback’ had a backlash against it … and it might have done better by sneaking in. By [‘Milk’] not being the favorite, there wouldn’t be any organized or semi-organized opposition to it.”