Let me start off by saying I give Milk a B/leaning towards a B+ right off the bat. I really liked it, I think it is an important story that I didn't know about before now and it was well-written, well-acted and well-directed.
I have two cricisms, 1) I think in some places, the history took precedence over the story so I was lost in a "here's what happened" vs. a "here's how the story of what happened played out." Josh Brolin's charcacter for example. There wasn't much of a personal connection before Milk shows up at Dan Smith's kid's baptism. One minute he's on tv and the next he's just there. But, I will say that I think they did a good job in showing some great actual footage from The Castro and all over the news and whatnot. I would think that with good footage, there was a real danger that the actual clips could overcome the storyline-I thought that happened with The Queen somewhat, but it didn't happen here.
Along these lines with this first criticism, I had a hard time with the relationship between Milk and Diego Luna's character, Jack. I think that someone who really didn't like Jack must have been consulting on this project, because I think that I would have rather have seen that character and relationship fleshed out or toned down, but not left straggling out there the way it did. I like Diego Luna since his Y Tu Mama Tambien days too, so I am not sure what wasn't getting me there. Seeing little vignettes of all the bad sorts of things Jack ended up doing, doesn't really help bring to the grief that Milk must have been feeling later.
2) Before I say this, because I'm sure there are tons of people who would disagree, let me preface this by the fact that I love Sean Penn, but his portrayal here of Harvey Milk reminded me of his I Am Sam character more than any of the gay guys I know. I just didn't get there with him. Now I thought James Franco and Emile Hirsh both pulled off their roles with flying colors. I'd like to see James Franco get a supporting role nomination for this. He was excellent. And as a side note, the HSM kid was cute in this too.
Anyway, it is a great story, and an important one, especially in light of the California Prop 8 debacle. It makes it difficult to believe that we're actually walking backwards instead of forward in some respects. Can I blame that on W too? :-) Anyway, if you haven't already gone to Funny or Die to see the Prop 8 Musical, go watch, it is funny! But a sad commentary that stars need to come out to shine a spotlight on an issue that we should never be hearing about again. Come on CA! Get it together!