Million Dollar Baby

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Saw this on Tuesday (gracias to you-know-who-you-are), but been under the weather since, and wanted to let it digest a bit before talking about it. This won't resemble an actual review, so brace yourself:

First, the film is remarkably well-directed. I've never thought much of Eastwood as an actor, and cannot conceive as to how he managed to get nominated for his role here, but his inclusion in the Best Director category of tomorrow's Oscars is entirely deserved. The lighting in the gym, in particular, was what stood out for me. Just gorgeous to look at.

Swank, however, is the highlight of the film. Freeman isn't asked to do a whole lot, in my opinion, but he does it well nonetheless. Swank's role seems far more challenging, but you'd never know it by watching her. She makes the film, plain and simple.

Now, in regards to the ending:

WARNING: "Million Dollar Baby" spoilers below
I don't have much of a problem with it, in a moral/political sense. Regardless of one's feelings on the right-to-die issue, I didn't think killing Maggie was portrayed as the "right" thing to do; just something she wants done. We can only guess about what stance, if anything, the film takes here; and I'm all too happy to do just that.

It strays close to an endorsement when she makes her plea to Frankie, but counters itself with the words of Father Horvak, whose advice was (I thought) something the audience was intended to take as sound. Movies have subtle ways, of course, of letting us know who we're supposed to side with. When our protagonist has finally turned a mental corner and is ready to succeed in whatever it is he's doing, music lets us know. And when a film wants us to know that a particular character's stance is the one we're supposed to agree with, it'll often make sure we see them getting some other things right, first, so that when things become a bit more nuanced, we know who to "trust." Father Horvak tells Frankie exactly why he's been coming to Mass for 23 years, and we know he's right. As such, I think his advice is intended to be "correct," in the eyes of the story.

Slay's interpretation -- which, admittedly, had not occurred to me -- was that Frankie knows his choice is wrong, but feels he is already damned. That fits about as well as anything else I can come up with.

I presume, from the "what kind of man your father was" (or was it is?) line that Eddie, Freeman's character, is relating the story to Frankie's daughter. If so, it's a nice touch. I'm still not sure how I feel about the fact that we don't see Frankie after he's ended Maggie's life. That might be by design, as seeing him at all would probably make either an explicit endorsement or a condemnation of what he'd done inevitable. If we see him at peace, the film's stance is clear. Ditto if we see him depressed or upset in any way.

Skip Bayless of ESPN.com has a spoiler-filled piece here which takes note of a few logical inconsistencies throughout the film, some of which had puzzled me, as well. My only gripes that don't stretch into the world of politics or logistics is that it drags a bit at the end, and that Maggie's family is, as Bayless also points out, is almost a parody of itself. Everything before the "event," however, is nearly flawless.

Aside from deciphering what -- if any -- stance the film takes, or any consistency problems with the film, it's well-acted, well-written, well-shot, and well worth your time.



Sure Million Dollar Baby grabbed attention and became a good movie and Eastwood directs well. But, (and this is me asking ya'll) was it really 'that' oscar worthy??? I mean, will we all remember Million Dollar Baby in 20, 30, 40 0r 50 years? I am sure we will be praising for it one year and brushing it off for another winner next year.

I have come to a conclusion that the Oscars really aren't that worthwhile as they used to be. The films nominated aren't the type of ones noticed in the past. Films with real story power, character power, a real horror factor and history in the making. Films worth noting!!! Years from now.



Originally Posted by jrs
Sure Million Dollar Baby grabbed attention and became a good movie and Eastwood directs well. But, (and this is me asking ya'll) was it really 'that' oscar worthy??? I mean, will we all remember Million Dollar Baby in 20, 30, 40 0r 50 years? I am sure we will be praising for it one year and brushing it off for another winner next year.
Yes. It is clearly the best film of the five nominees this year, and easily the most emotional and effecting. Movies that connect that way with audiences don't vanish, they flourish over time.




I have come to a conclusion that the Oscars really aren't that worthwhile as they used to be. The films nominated aren't the type of ones noticed in the past. Films with real story power, character power, a real horror factor and history in the making. Films worth noting!!! Years from now.
When was this glorious magical time you speak of? The Oscars have always had marginal to crappy films slip all the way through the ranks to Best Picture winner, and they always will. Unfortunately it's very rarely about anything as admirably or lofty as "quality". With a voting body that size and that diverse, in age if nothing else, the collective taste will much more often than not skew toward the conservative and dull side of the artistic scale. But it's been no different in that regard in recent years versus years and eras past. Movies like The Great Ziegfeld, The Greatest Show on Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, Oliver! and Rocky hardly seem especially "worthy", by virtually any set of critical criteria, when viewed through the artistic and entertainment prism of time. Nor will The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love or Gladiator. Nor will many future Best Picture winners to come. The number of instances where the Academy's Best Picture of the year can even be seriously argued as the "best picture of the year" is realtively few.

Such is the Oscars.
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As to Million Dollar Baby itself, it is not a perfect film (as Eastwood's previous Best Picture winner Unforgiven really is)....

WARNING: "MILLION DOLLAR BABY" spoilers below
The sports genre cliches, though not overplayed or given the same weight as the character detail of the three main players, are a bit too distracting at times. And the very thin and cheap way both the Fitzgeralds and "Danger" are drawn takes off major points from the film's overall scorecard. But, the three main characters are very well created by the script, inhabited by the actors and handled by the direction. As a character piece it is very quiet and very strong, with more subtlty and power than most Hollywood fare.

In regards to the finale with it's supposed controversy, this has all been much ado about nothing. Million Dollar Baby is actually as quiet and powerful in regards to the topic of assisted suicide as it was with the nuances of the main characters. Indeed as Yoda points out, the Father the Eastwood chatacter turns to gives him great advice: great advice as a representative of the Church, and great advice as someone who knows him personally. That the character of Frankie ultimately decides to go against the advice in no way lessens the truth of the Father's words. It's simply the choice that Frankie and Maggie, those two specific characters in that specific circumstance, would choose. The film does not necessarily "endorse" suicide, in any form, but it presents it in some of its complexities, giving a very reasoned and compassionate voice to both sides (even if the one course to go ahead with it is given more emotional weight, both are dealt with on equal footing intellectually), and then concludes the drama the only way these two characters would. That's it. Which isn't such a small thing, it's actually a very wonderful thing, and makes for a knockout narrative that if anything should create honest and open dialogue between people who have seen it in regards to that subject.

If only the media "pundits" (specifically Michael Medved and Rush Limbaugh who led the push) had discussed that issue of the film with the same level of thought and care the film actually does. But then they wouldn't be who they are, I reckon.


But even with those flaws, Million Dollar Baby is clearly the best of the five nominated Pictures, and will very easily win tomorrow night. Scorsese may wind up getting Best Director, pretty obviously as much for correcting past awards injustices as for the feat of The Aviator (and you won't find many bigger fans of Marty than me), but there won't be any such twists when it comes to Best Picture. Million Dollar Baby has it all but won.



Originally Posted by Holden Pike
Yes. It is clearly the best film of the five nominees this year, and easily the most emotional and effecting. Movies that connect that way with audiences don't vanish, they flourish over time.
I agree at that being the one to be chosen as Best Picture for this year and understand it is being effective.


Ok....
Take Million Dollar Baby or Passion of the Christ for example.

Without any Mel Gibson $$$ jokes etc, seriously which would be THE most memorable film in the years to come?



Well, the award isn't supposed to go to the most memorable film. I actually think you could make a decent argument for The Passion of the Christ on purely cinematic grounds, but the fact that it's memorable (and if you're saying that it's more likely to be remembered than any other film this year, I agree) is an issue somewhat apart from the Oscars, I think. Or at least, it's supposed to be, though I've no doubt they're concious of such things.



Not to hijack or anything, but what is the Academy's definition of best film? I don't think you can really argue whether or not a film is worthy of 'best film' unless you have a clear cut definition of their standards.
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Thought some of you might like to know that Bill O'Reilly interviewed Clint Eastwood on the 25th. O'Reilly's been lumped in with Michael Medved as one of the pundits kicking up dust about this, but I think that's a kneejerk response; he hasn't, to my memory, really decried the film.

Indeed, in his interview he simply asked Eastwood, straight out, whether or not there's a message, and goes on to praise him for being fair to both sides of the issue. Here's the pertinent segment:

O'REILLY: So it was a surrogate father attached to a young woman who is striving. So to you, it was a more relationship film. That was a primary focus of the film.

EASTWOOD: Exactly.

O'REILLY: And then it gets blown up into an issue film, the euthanasia. Did that surprise you?

EASTWOOD: Well, I don't — it could be blown up, but I didn't see what the blow-up is. It's — it wasn't that — it isn't a message for anything. But nowadays — in the old days, it was everybody was talking about the knee- jerk liberals. Now we have sort of the knee-jerk conservative group that has — tries to politicize everything. But it wasn't a political film. It's merely a relationship film, adventure. It doesn't make a statement for or against anything. It just happens to be the way the story comes out.

O'REILLY: Well, you also did it fair and balanced. I mean, you had the priest in a key part of the film, advising against this in a very, very articulate way. That's what — I said, look, he presented both sides of it. And that's all you can do for the audience. You weren't trying to brainwash anybody in my estimation.

EASTWOOD: No, actually, the priest is right. When he says it, he says to him, he says, you do this thing, you'll be lost somewhere deep within, inside you forever. And he's absolutely right.
So, kudos to O'Reilly for cutting through the kerfuffle and simply asking the man himself. It's also satisfying to learn that my interpretation of the priest's role was correct, if only because it strikes a blow for subtlty in cinema.



Registered User
Originally Posted by Yoda
Saw this on Tuesday (gracias to you-know-who-you-are), but been under the weather since, and wanted to let it digest a bit before talking about it. This won't resemble an actual review, so brace yourself:

First, the film is remarkably well-directed. I've never thought much of Eastwood as an actor, and cannot conceive as to how he managed to get nominated for his role here, but his inclusion in the Best Director category of tomorrow's Oscars is entirely deserved. The lighting in the gym, in particular, was what stood out for me. Just gorgeous to look at.

Swank, however, is the highlight of the film. Freeman isn't asked to do a whole lot, in my opinion, but he does it well nonetheless. Swank's role seems far more challenging, but you'd never know it by watching her. She makes the film, plain and simple.


Martin Scorcese's "The Aviator" seemed to be the favorite for Oscar gold. The academy decided this was going to be Clint Eastwood's year. Million Dollar Baby was great. Sad, but great. The performances were totally outstanding. I was happy for Jamie Foxx winning for Ray but I was even more ecstatic over Morgan Freeman, after all these years, finally being recognized for his phenomenal work as an actor in taking the award for Best supporting actor.

Now, in regards to the ending:

WARNING: "Million Dollar Baby" spoilers below
I don't have much of a problem with it, in a moral/political sense. Regardless of one's feelings on the right-to-die issue, I didn't think killing Maggie was portrayed as the "right" thing to do; just something she wants done. We can only guess about what stance, if anything, the film takes here; and I'm all too happy to do just that.

It strays close to an endorsement when she makes her plea to Frankie, but counters itself with the words of Father Horvak, whose advice was (I thought) something the audience was intended to take as sound. Movies have subtle ways, of course, of letting us know who we're supposed to side with. When our protagonist has finally turned a mental corner and is ready to succeed in whatever it is he's doing, music lets us know. And when a film wants us to know that a particular character's stance is the one we're supposed to agree with, it'll often make sure we see them getting some other things right, first, so that when things become a bit more nuanced, we know who to "trust." Father Horvak tells Frankie exactly why he's been coming to Mass for 23 years, and we know he's right. As such, I think his advice is intended to be "correct," in the eyes of the story.

Slay's interpretation -- which, admittedly, had not occurred to me -- was that Frankie knows his choice is wrong, but feels he is already damned. That fits about as well as anything else I can come up with.

I presume, from the "what kind of man your father was" (or was it is?) line that Eddie, Freeman's character, is relating the story to Frankie's daughter. If so, it's a nice touch. I'm still not sure how I feel about the fact that we don't see Frankie after he's ended Maggie's life. That might be by design, as seeing him at all would probably make either an explicit endorsement or a condemnation of what he'd done inevitable. If we see him at peace, the film's stance is clear. Ditto if we see him depressed or upset in any way.

Skip Bayless of ESPN.com has a spoiler-filled piece here which takes note of a few logical inconsistencies throughout the film, some of which had puzzled me, as well. My only gripes that don't stretch into the world of politics or logistics is that it drags a bit at the end, and that Maggie's family is, as Bayless also points out, is almost a parody of itself. Everything before the "event," however, is nearly flawless.

Aside from deciphering what -- if any -- stance the film takes, or any consistency problems with the film, it's well-acted, well-written, well-shot, and well worth your time.



I watched this movie the other night, and beyond the fact that I cant stand boxing, I got over that only to be traumatized further. ...by Clint Eastwood. Its like that is what the man does best--severe emotional trauma! Why? Why take a perfectly good storyline and wreck it up by making it this derailed train?

Granted, I understand (or THINK I understand) the overall social point (dont box? no, that's not it. don't take chances? no thats not it. always protect yourself? not thats not it. BE ALL THAT YOU WANT TO BE? okay, fine. FINE! )

I cant explain it, but "Mo Cuishle" or not, I cant help feeling that it was all so...pointless.

What a waste.
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Maggie Fitzgerald's family.

I'm glad I didn't pay eight dollars to see this piece of chit in the theater.



Originally Posted by Loner
[CAST OF "HEE-HAW"]
Maggie Fitzgerald's family.
I hear ya'. I thought the way Maggie's family was written and the actors in those roles were just horrible. I had many of the same problems with the Danger character. They were cheap, easy stereotypes. I don't disagree with your sentiment at all.

BUT the three main characters are drawn with incredible care and inhabited by very talented actors at the top of their respective games. The strength of them and the overall narrative arc lift the movie past its glaring flaws for me. But yes, just dreadful stuff there. The movie should have excised Maggie's family completely and found a better device than Danger to bring what it did out of the Scraps character.

Still a damn good movie with an emotional wallop, and I think easily the greatest film of the five nominated for Best Picture (The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray and Sideways being the others).



Originally Posted by Holden Pike
I hear ya'. I thought the way Maggie's family was written and the actors in those roles were just horrible. I had many of the same problems with the Danger character. They were cheap, easy stereotypes. I don't disagree with your sentiment at all.
Ah, good. I thought I was the only one to think that.
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Maggie's family and some of the gym's regulars bothered me as well, but, as Holden said, the central three characters are so well-developed, it makes those cartoonishly over-the-top characters (if you can even call them that) forgivable. I thought this movie was very powerful overall, and displayed Eastwood's skill for storytelling and simple, yet effective direction perfectly. And, as said by many a MoFo before, the lighting is striking. Not a flawless film (and not my favorite of the Best Picture nominee batch- Sideways and The Aviator are better films in my book), but a strong film that pummels the emotions without feeling too melodramatic or saccharine. 3.5/4
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The People's Republic of Clogher
I haven't seen this since the cinema, though suspect I'll have to watch it this weekend.

I liked Million Dollar Baby. A lot.

Ok, it strays into melodrama in places and, as people have mentioned, some of the supporting characters are one dimensional but Clint pulls it back from the cliff with ease. He's a director with the confidence and experience (and, I get the impression, lack of ego) to trust his team as much as his talent and when the three main roles are so sensitively played, quite frankly, who cares?

Clint's great, even his 'rent payers' like Space Cowboys and Blood Work are watchable. I guess it helps when you surround yourself with a crew so in tune that they can sense your next bowel movement...

Emotional wallop.
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A system of cells interlinked
I really liked the film. I must agree, however, that the Danger character had everyone in the room sort of busting on him (my living room, not the gym). Even as a typical stereotype, the character fails, as he is just there. I figured they would attempt to work him into some sort of moral play, but they never really did. In fact, it just seemed as if the only reason he was there was to help flesh out Freeman's character, which Mr' Freeman was quite capable of doing himself (and he did do it himself). Otherwise, I thought the film was fantastic and quite moving. I didn't know a thing about it, so I was really floored by the experience.

Mack, was the film really a trainwreck, or were you a wreck after watching it? I know I was.

Loner, you haven't seen it at all but it's a piece of ****? I tend to not take arguments seriously if they aren't backed by any sort of referent. Sorry.

Not my favorite film of last year, but one of the best, hands down.
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Here to support the villians.......
I missed this film when at the cinema, so I decided to buy it on DVD a few days ago. What can I say?, it was a excellent movie. Hollywood is going through a faze of releasing boring remakes and sequels at the moment so movies like this remind me of how great Hollywood can be and what it can produce.

Eastwood's last directed movie Mystic River was an oscar winner and this is no different, both movies rely on performances from the three main leads, in mystic rivers case it was Penn, Robbins and Bacon, In Million Dollar baby its Swank, Freeman and Eastwood himself. Hilary Swank is a relevation in her role, she really is fantastic (she's not been this good since the underrated Boys Don't cry) and she throughly deserved her oscar. Morgan Freeman continues to show he can still perform even when these young upstarts are getting all the movie projects (Orlando Bloom I'm pointing to you) first this and then Batman Begins, Freeman is still the man and he derserved his oscar as well. And Eastwood is just Eastwood he is a joy to watch, And his direction is brilliant as well, did he deserve his Best Director Oscar?, yes although Martin Scorsese has to win an oscar some day.

A great movie, truly uplifting and powerful, one of the best movies of the year..

Final Grade: A
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Originally Posted by Sedai
Loner, you haven't seen it at all but it's a piece of ****? I tend to not take arguments seriously if they aren't backed by any sort of referent. Sorry.
Originally Posted by Loner
I'm glad I didn't pay eight dollars to see this piece of chit in the theater.
Where did I state that I hadn't seen it?

I rented it on Netflix last week.



All good people are asleep and dreaming.
Originally Posted by Sedai
Ah, my bad. Sorry man