Million Dollar Baby (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB

USA, 2004.  Warner Bros., Lakeshore Entertainment, Malpaso Productions, Albert S. Ruddy Productions.   Screenplay by , based on the story collection Rope Burns by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Clint Eastwood, Paul Haggis, , .  Music by Clint Eastwood. Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

It’s a cliché as old as the hills: aging mentor with a spotted past rejects the kid who wants to be a champ. The kid gets into the mentor’s crotchety little heart and ends up going the distance, and then life intervenes and suddenly it’s all about them bonding. You may think you’ve seen it all before, but Clint Eastwood‘s monumentally enthralling film proves that the old tales can still be shaken out and made to feel fresh again. Eastwood, in one of his best ever performances, plays an aging boxing manager who refuses to train a green young woman (Hilary Swank) who is dying to be a good prizefighter despite the drawbacks: she’s too old and has too little experience. With the help of Eastwood’s best friend and associate (Morgan Freeman), Swank eventually convinces the old yeller that a girl is worth his time and that she’s got what it takes to be a winner in the ring. Over the course of the two hours that follow, you enter the world of these exceptionally well-written characters and experience one of the most finely crafted movies about boxing ever made, joining the ranks of Body And Soul, Champion and Raging Bull for capturing the essence of the sport’s brutal violence as well as the tender personal stories behind it. The superbly photographed boxing scenes are exciting, but every time the characters stop to develop their stories it doesn’t slow the entertainment down one bit. Freeman hasn’t been this good since The Shawshank Redemption, stealing every scene with his sarcastic personality, while Swank finally makes good on her Oscar promise with a deeply felt performance that works on all levels, physically and emotionally.

Academy Awards:  Best Picture; Best Actress (Hilary Swank); Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman); Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
Nominations: Best Actor (Clint Eastwood); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Film Editing

Golden Globe Awards:  Best Actress-Drama (Hilary Swank); Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama; Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman); Best Original Score

Screen Actors Guild Awards:  Best Actress (Hilary Swank); Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman)
Nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s