I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when we went to this movie on Saturday night. Not only had I been ruined of the big climactic twist by a CNN.com story, but it just didn't seem like a great movie. It seemed a little boring.
Man, WAS I WRONG.
Million Dollar Baby ranked up there with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as one of the best films of 2004. I'm not just saying this because everyone else in the world is saying it. I would be the last person to do that...to AGREE with critics, BUT...I can't help it.
I've never been a huge Clint Eastwood fan. I never really understood what the big deal was about him. I think it all started back when Unforgiven won all those Oscars. I just couldn't figure it out. How could a western movie be that good?
Million Dollar Baby is carried by Hilary Swank's unbelievable portrayal of Maggie Fitzgerald, a white trash, down-on-her-luck, cliche who wants to box for Clint Eastwood's Frankie. Frankie sees her as an annoyance. I don't want to say too much about the movie because I think that it is a story that is better told on the screen than having someone relay a summation to you. I said before that I thought that she would win and she probably should, but that doesn't mean I still won't be pulling for Kate Winslet. Swank already has one!
I think that I might want to revise my previous Oscar nominations. I still don't think that Clint Eastwood should win. Hilary Swank was right when she said that he put out the best acting of his career. Unfortunately, his career is marked with spaghetti westerns and movies like Dirty Harry and Every Which Way But Loose (in which his co-star was an orangutan), so I still don't think he deserves it here. BUT, I would probably revise my Best Supporting Actor pick to be Morgan Freeman. Freeman provides a similar voice as he did in Shawshank Redemption as Red, but I think that he stretches himself a little further here and it's time for him to be recognized and I expect him to as well.
After watching Million Dollar Baby, I'm really pulling for it to beat out Sideways (which I think is still the front runner, despite being a complete travesty as a movie) for Best Adapted Screenplay. Million Dollar Baby was much more uplifting than I expected and it even had comedic moments, which were well-timed and extremely appropriate.
Now, the question: should Clint Eastwood beat out Martin Scorsese for Best Director? That's a tough one. The Aviator is a movie in scope that Oscar appreciates, but it would be hard to ignore just the almost perfect filmmaking that Eastwood achieved with Million Dollar Baby. This one is a coin flip.
In additon, I also think that Million Dollar Baby is probably the strongest Best Picture contender out of the group. I've seen 4 of the 5 now (with only Ray left to see) and Million Dollar Baby was, in my opinion, the best (although I wouldn't be upset if the Oscar went to Finding Neverland or The Aviator). Both had their merits, I just thought that Million Dollar Baby was spectacular.
IMDb rating: 9 out of 10.