The Oscar race is reaching its last leg approaching the awards ceremony on February 27 and the nominees are finally reaching a theater near you. That leaves me scrambling to review as many noms as I can before the big night.
I have already raved about Hotel Rwanda. The latest film I viewed was Million Dollar Baby, featuring nominees for Best Actor, Best Director (both Clint Eastwood), Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman), Best Actress (Hilary Swank), Film Editing (Joel Cox) and Best Screenplay (adaptation, Paul Haggis).
Million Dollar Baby is the story of a thirty-something with big ambitions to become a pro-boxer. And this boxer-to-be is a woman. Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) knows that her dream is a long-shot just as she knows that all anyone has ever expected her to be is white trash. That, however, does not discourage her. It only makes her more determined. She decides that to achieve her dream she needs a trainer and not just any trainer, but the best. She wants Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) to make her a champion. Frankie has trained fighters for decades. He can spot a fighter and he can make one, but he is plagued by a past that prevents him from taking the risks necessary to achieve greatness. He resolves against training Maggie. His long-time friend Eddie Dupris (Freeman), however, starts giving Maggie tips behind Frankie’s back, and is finally able to convince him to train her.
Frankie makes a real fighter out of Maggie and as they train they develop a relationship that is something more like father and daughter than trainer and fighter. When Frankie finally is able to take the risks necessary for greatness, the results require him to make the hardest decision of his life.
Million Dollar Baby is a powerful movie. It dominates an intense spectrum of emotion while it builds the audience up before tearing them back down. When watching this film, prepare for an emotional rollercoaster ride.
This would not be possible without the acting. Hilary Swank is amazing. Her part is a difficult one and she never falters. She is impeccable and beautiful from start to finish. She brings a girl-next-door quality to Maggie that made me love her from the moment she came on screen. Clint Eastwood never lets the audience down, but his directing in this movie far surpasses his acting. Morgan Freeman is his normal Freeman self, narrating the film with the command and emotional contact we have seen him use in such films as The Shawshank Redemption.
Million Dollar Baby is a beautiful movie. It features intense visuals and outstanding acting that make this nominee worthy of the honor.