February 17, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

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Watching Million Dollar Baby was a tainted experience for me. Instead of going in with a heard-this-was-good sense of anticipation, I walked in with a this-better-be-good attitude. And that's because of the recent hubbub screaming its poignancy, its supremacy and its merits as an Academy Award front-runner. I was hoping to see fireworks – a rare occasion where the stars (literally and figuratively) align – and a gem is produced. But it just didn't happen.

Quite possibly, Million Dollar Baby could be anointed Best Picture of 2004. But there are many intangibles that make this movie so-so. The punchclock direction. The hastened, black-and-white treatment Clint Eastwood gives an incredibly important topic. An unintentionally funny appearance from a laughably over-the-top redneck family. And the undeniable fact that all parties involved have simply put out product better than this in their careers. For Eastwood, it's no Unforgiven or Mystic River. For Morgan Freeman, it's not Glory or The Shawshank Redemption. And for Hilary Swank, who performs admirably, it's still no Boys Don’t Cry.

Bah! Unimpressed.

Side note: The selection of Eastwood as a Best Actor nominee really cheeses me. Like I said, it wasn't the best year for top-pedigree films. But with standout performances this past year from Javier Bardem, Liam Neeson, Paul Giamatti and even Jim Carrey, the acting catagory really couldn't stand to include any feelgood additions or errors – and it clearly has.

Theater idiots: None. The whole house was glued to the screen, so who knows? Maybe I'm alone with my opinion here.

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