340. Million Dollar Baby

Movie: Million Dollar Baby

Release Date: December 15, 2004

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman.

Tag Lines: “Beyond his silence, there is a past. Beyond her dreams, there is a feeling. Beyond hope, there is a memory. Beyond their journey, there is a love.”

Relevance: A movie about boxing? Directed by Clint Eastwood? No thanks. I’ll pass.

That was my first reaction when I saw the trailer for ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ I love Morgan Freeman and really enjoyed Hilary Swank’s performance in ‘Boys Don’t Cry,’ a movie that will be showing up here in the next few months, but Clint Eastwood? I’ve never been a real fan of either his acting or directing. (However, his name might be popping up at least one more time here on my list.) So my thought was I’ll pass for now and eventually catch it when it’s on TV.

Then it was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. So early 2005, sometime before February 27th, I went to see ‘Million Dollar Baby.’ It was within the first ten minutes of the movie I knew that I had judged a book by its cover. Not only was I completely entertained and moved by the film, I actually liked Clint Eastwood as an actor in it. To me it was his ‘As Good As It Gets’ moment. (Explanation: I am one of those rare people that thinks Jack Nicholson is just “ok” at acting and plays the same character over and over to ad nauseum, except for ‘As Good As It Gets.’) So I walked out of the theater pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t my favorite of the Best Picture nominations that year, but I knew that it was going to win (which it did). So of course I bought the DVD when it was released as part of my owning all of the Best Picture Oscar winners. I may have watched it again when I bought the movie, but other than that I have only watched it a few more times (and probably not in full) when I caught it on television.

Today’s Thoughts: As I mentioned above, I was not a huge fan of Clint Eastwood as actor and director. But don’t get me started on Clint Eastwood, the person. My feelings about him have deteriorated over the years. His politics, including that damn chair speech in 2012 at the RNC are enough to make me vomit. Because I am not a huge fan of his work, I don’t have to deal with seeing his name or his face that often. Today was different.

Despite my feelings about Clint Eastwood, I still thoroughly enjoyed ‘Million Dollar Baby’ again. The Kleenex box was back today. It was Hilary Swank’s fault. She is so good as Maggie in the movie, both physically and emotionally, she deserved every award that she received for the role. Morgan Freeman was equally good as well. And Clint Eastwood? I still think he was the best I have ever seen him for this role. Art truly does supersede personal feelings.

The screenplay was really well written and probably had a lot to do with me liking Clint Eastwood. The script tackles some heavy issues and I appreciated how it handled the idea of assisted death. It was also quite humorous. I mean, does dialogue with a Catholic priest get any better than this?

“What’s confusing you this week?”

“Oh, it’s the same old “one God-three God” thing.”

“Frankie, most people figure out by kindergarten it’s about faith.”

“Is it sort of like Snap Crackle and Pop, all rolled into one big box?”

“You’re standing outside my church, comparing God to Rice Krispies?”

As the small scene at the beginning of the movie continues, it boils up to this line: “There are no demigods you fucking pagan.” Any screenplay that has this line spoken by a priest in his full “drag costume” is alright with me.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year (winner), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Directing, Clint Eastwood (winner), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Hilary Swank (winner), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Morgan Freeman (winner), Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Clint Eastwood (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, Paul Haggis (nomination), Academy Award for Best Achievement in Film Editing, Joel Cox (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director, Clint Eastwood (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Hilary Swank (winner), Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Score, Clint Eastwood (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, Hilary Swank (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Morgan Freeman (winner), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, Hilary Swank (winner), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Clint Eastwood (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Clint Eastwood (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Top ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Director, Clint Eastwood (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actress, Hilary Swank (winner), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Director, Clint Eastwood (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor, Clint Eastwood (nomination), National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actor, Morgan Freeman (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Clint Eastwood (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (nomination), PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of theatrical Motion Pictures, Clint Eastwood, Al Ruddy, Tom Rosenberg (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Paul Haggis (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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