GLAAD Applauds Oscar Wins for Milk, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Milk, Vicky Cristina Barcelona Also Take Dual Honors at Film Independent's Spirit Awards

Richard Ferraro
Director of Communications
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

Damon Romine
Entertainment Media Director
(323) 634-2012
romine@glaad.org

February 22, 2009

February 22, 2009, Los Angeles, CA – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, tonight congratulated the creative teams and casts of Milk and Vicky Cristina Barcelona which received a combined three Oscars at the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Milk was nominated in eight categories and received the Oscar for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY for writer Dustin Lance Black, and PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE, to Sean Penn for his role as Harvey Milk. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was nominated and won for PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE, Penelope Cruz.

Both films are nominated for Outstanding Film – Wide Release at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, which honor media for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community.

"GLAAD applauds those who have brought the important story of Milk to so many millions of people, and congratulates Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn for their well-deserved Oscar wins," said Neil G. Giuliano, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). "They are to be commended for telling a story that has the power to inform future generations about the history of our community and our struggles for equality. Through Sean Penn's own connection with the character, he was able to give audiences the opportunity to learn more about Harvey Milk's lasting influence on our movement and our community."

"The success of Milk has tremendous impact in creating awareness, understanding and acceptance during a time when our community continues to face opposition in our pursuit of equality," added Giuliano." The images of our community that these and other LGBT inclusive films bring to audiences around the country help people embrace the LGBT community with understanding and acceptance." 

According to Harris Interactive's recent Pulse of Equality survey commissioned by GLAAD, nearly 20 percent of Americans say their feelings toward gay and lesbian people have become more favorable over the past five years. Respondents whose views have become more favorable cited seeing gay or lesbian characters in movies (29%) as a contributing factor.

In openly gay writer Dustin Lance Black's moving acceptance speech he called for LGBT equality: "If Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches or by the government or by their families that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights, federally, across this great nation of ours." During Sean Penn's acceptance speech he also called attention to LGBT equality. "I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone,” Penn said. Transcripts of both speeches are online at glaadBLOG: http://glaadblog.org/2009/02/22/dustin-lance-blacks-moving-acceptance-speech and http://glaadblog.org/2009/02/23/sean-penn-wins-the-big-prize.

Milk depicts the life of Harvey Milk, an outspoken advocate for LGBT equality who successfully ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and became one of the nation's first openly gay elected officials before his assassination in 1977.

At Film Independent's Spirit Awards on Saturday, Milk was recognized with two honors: BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY for writer Dustin Lance Black, and James Franco won BEST SUPPORTING MALE for his role as Harvey Milk's lover Scott Smith. Vicky Cristina Barcelona was also recognized with two awards: BEST SCREENPLAY for writer Woody Allen and Penelope Cruz won for BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE.

During the highly-competitive awards season, Milk received multiple nominations and honors, including the Stanley Kramer Award from the Producers Guild of America, which recognizes work that dramatically illuminates provocative social issues. The film was chosen as one of the top ten films of the year by the American Film Institute and the National Board of Review Award. It was selected as "Best Picture" by the New York Film Critics Circle, and was awarded Best Acting Ensemble at the Critics Choice Awards.

In addition to the Oscar and Spirit Award, writer Dustin Lance Black received the Writers Guild Award for Best Original Screenplay and was honored at the Writers Guild Awards with the 2009 Paul Selvin Award, which recognizes written work that embodies the spirit of constitutional rights and civil liberties.

For his role as Harvey Milk, Sean Penn received the Screen Actors Guild Award, Critics Choice Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and New York Film Critics Circle Award. Josh Brolin was honored for his acting work in Milk.

Penelope Cruz received an Oscar for PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE for her role inVicky Cristina Barcelona. Cruz plays Maria Elena, a woman who has a relationship with Cristina, played by Scarlett Johansson and Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem.

Cruz's performance won the BAFTA Film Award, Boston Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and the National Board of Review Award, among other honors.

The 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in New York on March 28, 2009 at the Marriott Marquis; in Los Angeles on April 18 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE; and in San Francisco on May 9 at the Hilton San Francisco. For more information and a list of nominees, visit http://www.glaad.org/mediaawards/index.php.