Oscar Bait – Million Dollar Baby

List Item: Watch all Best Picture Winners (to date)
Progress: 81/88Title: Million Dollar Baby
Director: Clint Eastwood
Year: 2004
Country: USA

As of now, the most recent winner of the Best Picture trophy at the Academy Awards is Terms of Endearment. It has been a long time coming, but finally I have gotten around to watching Million Dollar Baby. What put me off? The name.

I know it sounds like a pathetic reason, but you have to admit that as film names go it is pretty damned terrible. Also, when I was checking out the synopses online nothing really grabbed me – and this is with me actually knowing the twist in the end. Yes, thank you so much people I used to take the train to school with for ruining that emotional impact for me.

The twist is quite a known twist, but I hate people who reveal twists – so I won’t here. Needless to say, even though I knew what was coming there I was still able to feel for the characters in the scene.

With all this background I went into Million Dollar Baby expecting a ‘worthy’ Oscar bait film that would piss me off. The fact that it has Clint Eastwood everywhere did not help this assertion – nowadays I swear he just plays shades of the same grumpy, yet misunderstood, man that most people loved in Gran Torino. I don’t get that film, I just don’t.

What I DID get was how great Hilary Swank was in the titular (maybe) role of boxer Maggie Fitzpatrick. As an actress she had to do a lot in this role, including having to train up her body and gain muscle whilst being sick. It’s not one of the biggest transformations in cinema history, but that’s a lot of dedication.

I know that I am going to sound like a philistine here… but I preferred this film to Raging Bull. I mean, I find it hard to watch a film that I can’t sympathise with (my same problem with The Wrestler) so Million Dollar Baby has that stitched up.

My big question, however, is whether Million Dollar Baby deserved the award. Probably not. Hotel Rwanda and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would be a lot higher on my list.

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