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*** Official MILLION DOLLAR BABY Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by chris winters, Dec 16, 2004.

  1. chris winters

    chris winters Second Unit

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    saw this last night. Wow, i was moved. I think about it now and get a bit "touchy feely". As ebert says better then i can, this is the anti-hollywood 2004 movie. Non-sensational, no FX, all character, all payoff, minimalist style, no gloss, no glamour, and all heart. I fear some may backlash against its heart on its sleave manner, as its also incredible anti-ironic. Thats rare these days. I hope people dont use its lack of irony against it. Hillary Swank is heart wrenching, and clint is truly an icon. Like Jimmy Carter is a better ex-president, finally having a showcase for his humanity and sensativity, so Clint is a better ex-movie star then box office idol. Its mind boggling to think the director of this film was once Dirty Harry and stared in movies with monkeys. Imagine if a subtle and brilliant autuer was discovered in tough guy vin deasel 20 years from now, and you get the drift. Ok, maybe it was never that extreme, but still.

    Go see this film, and be prepared to have trouble sitting through the next vapid CGI happy meal with a numeral after its name.

    what is it about boxing movies that lend themselves to such deeper meaning and sensativity?
     
  2. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    All character. All drama. All powerful acting. All perfect or near-perfect writing.

    I bawled like a baby.

    And, thank you Ernest for the Yeats poem.

    What was the nickname he gave her? Mo something.

    Man, I just love this movie. So special...
     
  3. DAN NEIR

    DAN NEIR Guest

    Excellent, excellent movie. I've never been in a theater that had so many people in tears before. I hope it wins Best Picture, Director and Actress for Hillary Swank. What a long way from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Next Karate Kid.
    Can't say enough good things about this film.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Million Dollar Baby". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Without a doubt, the best film I've seen the last 12 months. Great acting, writing and direction. It ranks up there with such great boxing films as "Body and Soul", "The Set-Up", "Champion" and "Raging Bull". Furthermore, this film is more than just a boxing film, it's a human interest story filled with real characters dealing with the roadblocks that life has a tendency to place in our path as we try to find our way. Eastwood, Swank and Freeman are all at the top of their game. I think Swank has an excellent chance of winning another Best Actress AA.







    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Cory S.

    Cory S. Supporting Actor

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    Excellent filmmaking and acting all around. Oscar formuliac towards the end but with these characters, it doesn't matter. This film draws you in.

    The film I want won't win the Academy Award for Best Picture. If I had to choose an alternate, Million Dollar Baby would be it. Just excellent. Better than Mystic River but still not in the caliber of Unforgiven. But it's close.

    Easily Clint's best performance of his career. Clint's still got it. Definitely in my Top Five of the Year.
     
  7. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    There must have been at least a million ways for anyone directing the script of Million Dollar Baby to have screwed it up, with overly sentimentalized schlock, a clumsy drift into cliches regarding familiar story elements like the plucky underdog fighter, the grizzled trainer, the kind-hearted pal who never got his big chance, the failed father becoming close to the girl without a father figure, etc. How Eastwood managed to produce such an extraordinary film out of all that is really mysterious to me. Certainly it centers on two genuinely great performances, by him and by Swank, and Freeman is as reliable as ever in support. But plenty of movies with excellent performances come nowhere near this one in terms of their overall effectiveness.

    How does it all work? Part of it is the great combination of set-ups and payoffs, like the ones Quentin mentioned. Another great aspect of it is the timing within certain scenes, like when Hilary finally tells her mother off in the hospital, just when we're about to lose hope about her ability to recognize and reject their manipulations (also a great example of setting up the situation and paying it off later, the wicked selfishness of her relatives being well-established in this case).
    Time after time, scene after scene, Clint knows what we want, and then he makes us wait for it, and then he hits us with it at precisely the right moment.

    Aside from that, I don't really know why this movie is so great. I came out of the theater about 90 minutes ago, and I like it even more just sitting here thinking about it. Undoubtedly a masterpiece.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    In a totally crowded theater I watched this film, drenched in its humanity and humor like a fighter in between rounds being wiped down, taking in numerous jabs to the body and mind. I bobbed and weaved along with the rhythmic feints and punches. The film dances with you, pulls you in, jabs back, you push forward, it draws you in more, and gives you a roundhouse right you never see coming. But after the stars fade away, you're left with a story of hope, perserverance, and second chances.

    Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, and Morgan Freeman all turn in wonderful performances. They inhabit their characters, and the story is about these characters, their drive, their foibles, their insecurities, their past, their inner demons, their hopes, and their dreams.

    Eastwood's direction is tight, taut, on-target, nary an errant frame is introduced, and the screenplay is also up to the task at moving the story along at the pace it deserves, while providing a framework in which the 3 main characters are allowed room to pursue their dreams in spite of the obstacles in their paths.

    I give it 4 stars, or a grade of A. A cinematic knockout!
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    One of the best films of the year in a year with quite a few striking standouts. I have no way of ranking this in my top ten because it would shift position from 2-5 randomly. However I was a little surprised I wasn't as blown away by the acting as I was by the cinematography and script. Swank, Freeman and Eastwood were all outstanding, but Swank was definitely the big standout (because she actually gets some scenes with takes longer than ten seconds). A remarkable and lyrical film, someone asked me if Million Dollar Baby was just about boxing and I replied by asking them if a film like Psycho is just about a girl getting killed. there is the text of this film--boxing--and then there is its many layered and finely honed subtext about fathers and daughters, violence and the soul, class and family, love and self loathing. This is brilliant work from start to finish and one of the most striking and best films of the year.

    Adam
     
  10. Robert_eb

    Robert_eb Supporting Actor

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    I just saw this and I can say that this film had me in tears a couple of times throughout. I came in knowing nothing about the film except it was centered around a female boxer and was just completly taken with it.

    A true cinematic masterpiece. I didn't even notice it's 2:20 run time.
     
  11. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    My second film of the week. And what a week! I started with The Aviator. It was a tough choice sitting there in line with my money. Alone in the Dark, Million Dollar Baby, Alone in the Dark, Million Dollar Baby, Alone in the Dark...Million Dollar Baby. Ok, the choice wasn't that tough.

    In my The Passion of the Christ review, I spent some time talking about sometimes you just can feel that a movie is just right for you. It might not be an easy film, it might not be a popular film, but something compels you to see it the first chance you can. I knew little about Million Dollar Baby until I saw the poster a few months back. Little more two weeks ago. But I knew I wanted to see it. I wanted to see it the first chance I could get. I managed to read a one word spoiler yesterday in some jerk's rant about the Oscars...I quit reading then and there, but at least I misinterpreted it until a key moment in the film. The word was euthanasia
    I had assumed the wrong character.

    It's irrelevant anyway. I knew I'd love this movie. So many themese near and dear to my heart are treated with care, that I was almost immediately in love with it. The acting was so skillful, so honest, that I didn't even notice it. I wept a few times, and I know if I saw it again I'd weep again...and at different places in the film, no doubt. The honesty is what moved me, even more than the situations.

    Back to the actors. I know Hilary can be a red-carpet beauty...her last Oscar ceremony proved that. But she is so much more luminous here, projecting a physicality and bone-deep integrity almost absent from films. Her performance was sincere and measured. Even though it goes against Young Hollywood and my "due" theory, I easily see her getting her second award this year.

    Voiceovers rarely work. When they do, it's usually because Morgan Freeman is doing them. He's exceptional here, as he usually is. This time, he actually has material that suits his skills, as opposed to having to elevate a film around him. His voice, like his presence, is calming and reassuring. He's magnificent to watch.

    Clint Eastwood is a legend. More than that, he is an icon, in a way Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts cannot match, now or ever. His accomplished hand allows the story to take center stage, and he allows the narrative power to grow. As an actor, he is also exceptional. There is no showy scene here, for he or his castmates. It's all slow buildup into earned emotion. I will also say Eastwood has aged beautifully. I could stare at his face all day.

    All in all, Million Dollar Baby is an exceptional film, and one I will remember as long as I love films.

    10/10 (two in a week, I feel spoiled),
    Chuck
     
  12. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Wow. What a wonderful film. The past few weeks I've been trying to see as many of the heavy hitters and critics faves as I can.

    To be brutally honest, this film never got much of my interest when reading about it. Chalk one up to the un-educated as I thought this would be another rags to riches-against all odds movie...and throw in female boxing to boot. Not my thing...

    My God, was I WRONG!

    This film wasn't playing locally so I had to make the 45 mile trip to Dallas. It's been awhile since I've seen a movie at the UA Galaxy 10. Fortuately, M$B was showing in one of the Texas Giant Screens (largest screen in Texas).

    M$B had my total focus the entire time. With each scene, I cared more and more. Another honesty moment for you is revealing that I've never been a big fan of Hillary Swank. I didn't dislike her, just haven't been in to her films. She made me a believer. Such screen presence. Such a tender and honest smile. I got teary when she paid for the speed bag with all her loose change. :b She had me before that but that moment alone told me I was in the presense of greatness.

    Eastwood & Freeman. Can we just go ahead and say that these are the best actors around? I do think that Cruise & Hanks have that ability to be so convincing it's scary. But they aren't Clint Eastwood or Morgan Freeman. I want Freeman to read my eulogy. I'll just go for him saying my name, Tim Glover. There's such a poetic tone to his speaking.

    The drive home was one of reflection. This movie not only seizes you, but it doesn't let go. It's been about 3 hours now and it still has me captivated.

    I like to read good writing. Roger Ebert is my favorite critic. Not because I agree with him. Actually, I disagree with him more. But when he's right (agrees with me[​IMG] ) I LOVE his writings. He's a critic that can't hide his passion for a film.

    Here's an excerpt from his M$B review:

    "These three characters are seen with a clarity and truth that is rare in the movies. Eastwood, who doesn't carry a spare ounce on his lean body, doesn't have any padding in his movie, either: Even as the film approaches the deep emotion of its final scenes, he doesn't go for easy sentiment, but regards these people, level-eyed, as they do what they have to do.

    Some directors lose focus as they grow older. Others gain it, learning how to tell a story that contains everything it needs and absolutely nothing else. "Million Dollar Baby" is Eastwood's 25th film as a director, and his best. Yes, "Mystic River" is a great film, but this one finds the simplicity and directness of classical storytelling; it is the kind of movie where you sit very quietly in the theater and are drawn deeply into lives that you care very much about.

    The screenplay is by Paul Haggis, who has worked mostly on TV but with this earns an Oscar nomination. Other nominations, possibly Oscars, will go to Swank, Eastwood, Freeman, the picture and many technicians -- and possibly the original score composed by Eastwood, which always does what is required and never distracts

    Movies are so often made of effects and sensation these days. This one is made of three people and how their actions grow out of who they are and why. Nothing else. But isn't that everything?"

    James Beradennilli writes this:

    "I deem a movie to be worthwhile if I need time to recover after seeing it. Million Dollar Baby is such a film. It does not easily release the viewer, and it demands a time of reflection and contemplation afterwards. It is a rich and challenging motion picture that both affirms life and emphasizes its fragility. Eastwood touches our hearts and energizes our minds without resorting to overt manipulation. Million Dollar Baby is refreshingly free of the kind of tear-wringing melodrama that has become seemingly obligatory for this kind of story. You don't have to be a boxing fan to appreciate what Eastwood has wrought. This is a movie with the ability to win over all comers."

    Million Dollar Baby is probably the best film of 2004. Finding Neverland is there too. I expected to like FN, but M$B caught me offguard and captivated me unexpectedly.

    The Academy has some really touch choices this year. That said, all three of these actors deserve to win. They're that good.

    I look forward to another encounter with Million Dollar Baby :b
     
  13. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    There was a moment during this film where I thought, "Wow, this is really good, but I'm not sure I'd like to sit through it more than once or twice." By the time it was over, my mind completely changed. I'm looking forward to watching this several times because its just that perfect.

    I really wish there were more places playing this because it's completely worth seeing. I've seen all the Best Picture nominees aside from The Aviator, and I can say that M$B is my favorite so far.
     
  14. Dave_P.

    Dave_P. Supporting Actor

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    My feelings exactly. Not really a fan of boxing (much less female boxing), but decided to see this based on the WOM, accolades and Clint. Man, was I blown away. Perfect combo of action, drama, laughs and tears. I rarely ever cry at movies, much less tear up, but I have to say this got to me multiple times, not just at the expected moments but even with some of the scenes involving just Clint & Morgan together. Oscars are well-deserved by all involved, but the "knockout" is truly Swank. She just runs the gamut here with both physical and emotional parts. Just thinking of her exploding with giddiness and excitement when the gruff Eastwood agrees to train her brings a smile to my face while extracting the exact opposite emotion from the performance with just her face at the end. This easily makes my list of all-time fave movies.
     
  15. Lou Sytsma

    Lou Sytsma Producer

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    Great, great movie. Boxing lends itself so well metaphorically to life issues. The story here takes full advantage of that characteristic. Others in this thread have eloquently captured the layers this movie works on.

    The scenes between Clint and the Roman Catholic priest were priceless.
     
  16. Dave Hackman

    Dave Hackman Stunt Coordinator

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    A very nice attempt that fails to commit to a set storyline and instead wimps out for tragedy over substance.

    Weak boxing sequences that play out like ½ minute video game loops awaiting the next coin to continue with unbelievable choreographed knockout combinations that end things faster then the viewer can down an M & M. This story has more holes then Eddie Dupris (Morgan Freeman) socks, with un-resolved details conveniently left out when times get tough.

    To me this is a divided movie with the first half very enjoyable and the second half very different almost to the point of feeling like I walked into a new movie. Second half is time illogical and rushed much faster then the first, which spends almost 2 hours building up. Progressions are dropped here and there with the predictable final showdown just hanging in the mind of even the most clueless viewer.

    Hilary played herself a girl from a mobile home toughing it out in a harsh world and using her looks to provide us with the unreal perfect white female image the majority of viewers will route for; sort of the white man’s rocky syndrome.

    Clint with a voice of gravel and the wrinkles of an un-ironed cotton shirt is exceptional once you adjust your hearing to differentiate the subtle low tones he emits. Morgan is the man and I love to watch him so he can do little wrong in my book.

    This movie has great character development with plenty of depth to be found from the boxing forest gump to the pitiful mother of Hilary. Empathy is felt with Clint’s character and his attempt to overcome his past problems with his so called second shot of family and this is certainly wonderful to see. I could go either way but found it more fun to point out the negatives.

    I’m shake in it from an A to a B boss.
     
  17. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Having seen it twice now, Million Dollar Baby may just be Clint Eastwood’s best film yet since Unforgiven. At his current age of 74, he still has what it takes to make a film that provokes discussion as it tackles various subjects including redemption, regret, second chances, doubts and morality, among others.

    The film draws its power from the acting performances of Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman, its quiet and restrained examination of human relationships, philosophical undercurrents and a wave of human allegories that are somehow tied to the sport of boxing and with good success. The screenplay by Paul Haggis carefully injects humor at just the right moments. But it is Clint Eastwood’s direction that shines as he shoots for simplicity and subtlety in getting the points and story told.

    More importantly, the film is also about making hard choices by different people with different backgrounds in extremely difficult situations. This is the realm where the picture will get most of its punches.

    2004 has brought us two veteran directors who are still at the top of their game. Clint Eastwood with Million Dollar Baby, which aims for the heart as it goes for a familial love story and Martin Scorsese with The Aviator that aims for the mind as it examines the life of an American pioneer. One film is certainly more emotional than the other but both are personal and sincere in the stories they tell. Academy members will be faced with a tough choice to make between these two directors and their respective films come Oscar time.
    ---

    EDIT:

    After this review was written, a major revelation came to my attention based on an important plot point in the film that caused me to revise the way I view it now.

    ***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

    The film, for me was not science fiction. The entire third act is now based on a false situation – see discussion thread that starts here. For me, this is one serious flaw in what is, in my view, one of the main cruxes of the story.

    The elements of human drama and when viewed as a human interest film is now lessened, its impact greatly affected and somewhat diminished. There was no conflict on any of these characters, no moral dilemma, no risk and no danger. All of it was falsely manufactured to create one. These are good characters but unfortunately, in a very false moment and only to create dramatic effect – a fake one at that. To me, that is unforgivable in the way I view the film.

    This situation is no different than the one presented in House of Sand and Fog, which bothered me quite a bit.

    ~Edwin
     
  18. BennyD

    BennyD Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow. I'm speechless. Definately one of the best movies of the year, though extremely emotionally draining.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  19. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

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    I have yet to talk to someone who DIDN'T like it. It is just that good. I'm trying to convince some friends to go see it, and they won't because they think it's some sports movie, just trying to win an oscar. I told them it's more than that, it's deeper, there's so much going on. The first part of the movie is fun and exiting, it's humor is absolutley hysterical, it's dramatic moments are played just right,Morgan Freeman is fantastic, and you think you know where it's headed. And then, from nowhere, it leads you in a totally different direction! It makes you ponder after the credits roll. In the theater I was in...no one moved when the credits rolled. Everyone just sat there, not a word! I don't know how to explain it. It's everything a great movie should be...exciting, entertaining, funny, dramatic, moving, and ultimately, gut wrenching, and it makes you think. What a great movie. One of my all time favorites now.
     

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