I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Million Dollar Baby, 2004









Rated PG-13

This was my second time seeing this tear-jerker. (By the end of the film, I was balling like a baby and even went into the “ugly cry”.) Clint Eastwood (director/lead actor) plays the role of Frankie Dunn, an ex-boxer who owns a boxing training facility. A headstrong waitress named Maggie Fitzgerald comes in and asks to be trained. After much persistence (did I mention she is headstrong?), Frankie reluctantly agrees to train her to be a boxer. She’s talented and a quick learner and once in the ring, makes a name for herself with her wins. She and Frankie develop a father/daughter relationship- replacing the dysfunctional ones they have with their own family members. He has a custom boxing “jacket” made with the name “Mo cuishle” written on the back. When Maggie asks the meaning is of the Gaelic phrase, he says he doesn’t know. During one particular unfair and unlucky fight, Maggie falls and hits her neck on the seat of her overturned stool. She becomes paralyzed from the neck down. Though she’s nothing if not a fighter, this is a way she refuses to live. I was so torn over the ending (thus the ugly cry)- in good moral conscience, I couldn’t root for Frankie to do the illegal, but I also couldn’t bear to see Maggie suffer.


Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman reunite again (from “Unforgiven”) as the duo with a love-hate relationship. But I think their characters in this film were a bit too cliché: the crotchety old man who  finally concedes to “helping” a young woman- a “baby”, and the older and wiser black gentleman who works alongside the crotchety man offering words of advice to trainees. I’m sure feminists and women’s studies classes could have a field day with this film, (in good and bad ways). Other groups have obvious issues with the ending as well. Why does not moving have to equal not living?  I personally try not to dig too deep into either of these issues because 1) I’m not an extremist and 2) I know this is Hollywood.

Boxing is a sport I have NEVER understood. I hate watching it, think it is awful, and can’t believe people pay money and bet on people fighting. There is so much risk for bodily harm (as evidenced in this movie) that I just don’t get it. Why can’t we all just hug each other?

I can FINALLY say that I have the right to fairly critique this film as the winner because for the first time, I have seen ALL the nominees! This film was up against “The Aviator”, “Finding Neverland”, “Ray” and “Sideways”. “The Aviator” was decent (and had an impressive 11 nominations) and “Finding Neverland” wasn’t as good as I expected. “Sideways” is more of a “fluff” movie in my opinion and shouldn’t have been up for Best Picture. But “Ray” offered some decent competition. Another film that I think deserves some respect is “The Passion of the Christ”. I don’t understand why it is so controversial. It is an incredibly powerful movie that I watch every few years on Good Friday as a very personal and emotional way to reflect upon Jesus’ final days. There are scenes that are incredibly hard to watch obviously since it is about the gruesome flogging and crucifixion, but there are artistically poignant scenes as well. It also has beautiful music. I think it was appropriately nominated for Best Original Score, Cinematography, and Make Up. Sadly, it didn’t win any.

“Million Dollar Baby” walked away with four awards from its seven nominations including Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor (Freeman). This is perhaps my favorite role of Eastwood’s, but he had some tough competition this year with Jamie Foxx as “Ray”. Interestingly, this year had a very low turn-out in the theatres for viewing; NONE of the Best Picture nominees had reached Blockbuster status by the time of the ceremony (reaching $100 million dollars in ticket sales).

FAVORITE SCENE(S):

I was touched by any scene that showed Frankie in the hospital with Maggie. You could tell he is a changed man since meeting her and how much respect they have for each other. I just wanted to hug him when he confesses to Maggie that her boxing name (Mo cuishle) is a term of endearment that can mean “my darling”.

 

LESSONS LEARNED:

Although I don’t understand the appeal of boxing, I applaud any woman who truly wants to make it in “a man’s world”. Breaking down gender barriers is difficult. Maggie’s persistence proved she was serious and worth taking a chance on.

When writing something in another language that will remain forever, make sure it’s spelled correctly. Mo cuishle is actually supposed to be Mo chuisle according to irish-sayings.com. Oops.

3 comments:

  1. I've yet to see this film. Reading this makes me want to!
    And I'm with you. TOTALLY don't understand the appeal with boxing. So violent. :(

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  2. I think you should see it! I don't think I spoiled anything too much (I'm pretty sure that was in the trailer)... and I didn't reveal the actual ending. Both Hilary and Clint give amazing performances.

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  3. Oh yeah, I already knew the ending somehow. You didn't spoil anything!
    I'll have to wait until I'm in the 'ugly cry' mood and then go rent it. :)

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