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Sean Penn in a scene from Milk
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Oscar Nominee Spotlight: Sean Penn

The 48-year old Sean Penn might be easily ruffled off screen, but he hands in consistently stellar performances time after time.

The actor has won a previous Best Actor Oscar for his work in Mystic River, and he is now nominated for the film Milk, where he plays Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to be elected to office in California.

We haven't seen the film yet, but here's what the reviewers are gushing over:

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone:

That Harvey's questing spirit not only lives but soars in this movie is a gift from Sean Penn, who plays him for real instead of for show. Penn is a lion of an actor, but the tenderness he radiates here is revelatory. Smoldering intensity wasn't Harvey's thing. A closeted Wall Street investment banker who came out politically about the same time he did sexually, Harvey disarmed people with his ready charm, his bracing intelligence and his knack for helping the disenfranchised fight back.

Penn uses makeup to lengthen his nose and look more like Harvey. He adopts a New York accent to get Harvey's inflections. But the physical transformation is nothing compared to the way Penn gets at the core of the man, finding the source of his joy and pain. He disappears into Harvey with the artistry of an acting virtuoso. There's one word for Penn's performance: phenomenal.

Read Full Review

Image: Sean Penn in a scene from Milk

Text: Raja Sen

Also Read: The Oscar Nominations, 2009


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