Million Dollar Baby (2004)

At first I thought this would not win the Best Picture Oscar. I thought The Aviator was a lock because it was an epic and set in the past. Million Dollar Baby wasn’t an epic and is set in the present, plus was also the victim of controversy (Of which I’ll speak my ind about in a spoiler. And yes, you will be warned). But despite all the pre-Oscar accolades The Aviator won, Million Dollar Baby came from behind and took the Best Picture Oscar.

Boxing hasn’t been as popular lately. Probably because it’s not celebrated on MTV as much as basketball is. Which is a shame because boxing is one of my favorite sports. Plus a story about a woman’s pursuit in sports doesn’t always make for a crowd-grabber. But Million Dollar Baby is very much worth seeing.

Frankie Dunn is in his 70’s, running a run down boxing gym, and his boxers often leave him. In comes Maggie Fitzgerald who aspires to be a great boxer. The only problem is she’s 31, past her prime, and she’s female, which doesn’t take too well to Frankie. He reluctantly takes her on and she begins to improve greatly. Once she starts fighting, she’s excellent, winning in the first round. However Frankie thinks it’s bad for boxers to always win in the first round. all of this is told through the eyes of his assistant trainer, Eddie Dupris, who’s often judged by the younger boxers as past his prime.

The one thing is that this boxer-trainer relationship of Maggie and Frankie grows to become like a father-daughter relationship. It is good for them because Frankie has a mediocre relationship with his daughter and Maggie’s family is ungrateful with her financial assistance and is ashamed of her fame as a female boxer. Plus both have pasts that they want to walk away from. Frankie and Maggie are there for each other during the best of times and later on the hardest of times.

Overall I’d have to say this was the best of the Best Picture nominees. Hilary was excellent as Maggie, both physically and mentally she was prepared for this. Clint also was good as Frankie but I think his Oscar nomination in acting had more to do with his multitasking. Morgan was excellent as Eddie. Actually it was Morgan who carried most of the movie and was the one who held it together through his narrative. The most overlooked actor in the movie was the scene-stealing Jay Baruchel as the lanky mentally handicapped Danger. Usually a character like Danger who has lots of heart, soul and drive in athletic ambition, but no athletic talent, usually makes for good comedy in a movie, and even in real life. But he did a good job in giving Danger more dimension and made him as a person rather than a character. Clint’s directing was once again excellent. This was a movie Clint tried to get on screen for thirty years and he finally succeeded. And Paul Haggis did a very good job in script adaptation.

The ending of the movie has caused the most controversy lately, because of its ending. Just to clear it up, I do not think of this as a pro-euthanasia movie. I considered the whole point of the movie to be the relationship of Maggie and Frankie. Besides Maggie wanted to die at the end, so I felt the final word had to be hers.

So if you’d like to see a movie that’s worth seeing and not as hyped up as your typical movie, go see Million Dollar Baby It’s a rare gem.

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