Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tough Ain't Enough

Million Dollar Baby
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman
Released: 12/15/04
Viewed in theaters: 2/11/05

Oscar nominations:
Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Clint Eastwood (won)
Best Actor - Clint Eastwood (lost to Jamie Foxx for Ray)
Best Actress - Hilary Swank (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Morgan Freeman (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Paul Haggis (lost to Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor for Sideways)
Best Editing (lost to The Aviator)

Spoilers in my review! You've been warned!

I have to be honest with you: 2004 was a year I was not very excited about the Oscars. It's not that I despised any of the movies and performances that were nominated and/or won, but I just couldn't muster up any excitement over any of them. Usually there's a Best Picture nominee I'm rooting for (or at least an alternative one I wouldn't mind winning), but in the case of the '04 Oscars, I was more along the lines of "Meh, I really don't care who wins." I had a hell of a time trying to put together my top ten list for that year too! Most of the movies I liked that year were that of the popcorn flick variety.

I almost kind of wish that M$B and Mystic River had swapped years because I loved River, but it obviously wasn't going to win that year because that was the year of Hobbits, Middle Earth, and Peter Jackson. I think a major reason M$B and Eastwood won a year later was because the Academy knew he didn't have a chance the year prior and were now giving it to him. (Otherwise if Lord of the Rings didn't exist, then River would have won in '03 and probably The Aviator and Scorsese would have won in '04 - hmm, I would who would have won in '06?)

Obviously, this film is about boxing, which is something that doesn't excite me. I was bored during Ali and I didn't get what the big deal about Rocky was (and I can't believe they made so many sequels!) I just don't understand why people would want to be beat to a pulp! Frank (Eastwood) is an aging boxing coach who is losing his best boxers due to them going to other trainers, so he agrees to train his first female boxer, Maggie (Swank) even though she's almost 32 and it can take up to five years to train a boxer. The most intense part of the film doesn't come until the very last fight and what happens after it. While I remember what happened to Maggie (who could forget something like that!), I thought it had happened to her during the fight. I had forgotten she had already won the match and was celebrating when her opponent hit her when she wasn't paying attention.

Despite it being an Oscar-baity performance and despite Swank being very good in these tomboy from a poor hick town roles, I was a little surprised the Academy gave her another Oscar so soon after her win for Boys Don't Cry. (I'm beginning to think Annette Bening is her good luck charm: Bening was also nominated both times Swank won). I don't think Eastwood should have been nominated; all he did was growl (though I did think he should've been nominated for Gran Torino) and as much as I love Morgan Freeman, his Oscar was more of a lifetime achievement award. His performance in The Shawshank Redemption was better and more memorable and had he been in the supporting category instead of lead like he should have been (after all he was supporting to Tim Robbins' lead) he would have won for that movie! Oh, well. I'm glad he has an Oscar, though.


  1. Good review!

    Off topic; have you seen "Mildred Pierce"?

  2. I really liked this movie. It was a cliched plot, but it became a beautiful study of a relationship between three people. I actually loved Eastwood! I thought Freeman added some depth to his stock role, but Swank disappointed me. Do you think she deserved her Oscar?

  3. Twister, I haven't heard of "Mildred Pierce"

    Joe, I think Swank did a solid job, but I was rooting for Kate or Imelda.