Milk (2008) Director: Gus Van Sant

Milk is a thoughtful and moving portrayl of gay rights activist and politican Harvey Milk - the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California. The film does not shy away from opening with 'the end' as such; the news footage annoucement of Milk's assassination and untimely death, aged 49. We know what's coming, which makes Sean Penn's standout performance as Milk so heart-breaking.

Penn was quite rightly nominated for a Best Oscar for this film; the Milk he conveys is passionate (both in his politics and love affairs), brave (in the face of death threats and also standing up for what he believes in), affectionate (he holds a lot of love for his friends/close ones, but his family is not talked about)and charismatic (winning the votes of heterosexual voters). I'm ashamed that before this film, I didn't know much about Harvey Milk and what change he brought to US history, so I found the end credits even more poignant when you saw the real-life photos of the 'characters' and their achievements.

You will be cheering for Milk as he makes his inspirational speeches...crying when he hits his lows, such as the suicide of his partner Jack (Diego Luna)...and willing him not to go into City Hall on that fateful day. Despite the tragic ending, Milk is an uplifting and motivational film - Milk's battle against Proposition 6, a ban on gays and lesbians (in addition to anyone who supports them) from working in California's public schools, is inspiring and and it's shocking to think that this actually wasn't very long ago.

What holds the movie together is the charisma between the cast, also featuring Emile Hirsch and James Franco, and an absorbing script which tells a powerful story.