Million Dollar Baby Joins My 2004 Top Ten

This always happens. No sooner do I turn in my Top Ten list of 2004 to meet a deadline than I suddenly discover a film that changes everything.

I’m not much of a Clint Eastwood fan. I love Unforgiven, but I thought Mystic River was a vastly overrated film that had a flawed script and too much melodrama.

Last night I saw Million Dollar Baby , and it’s definitely in my Top Ten for the year. It’s Clint Eastwood’s best movie, in my opinion, and it has one of the best-written scripts I’ve encountered in years. I’d give this movie an ‘A’ even if I’d only LISTENED to it.

I’ll be pleased if Hilary Swank wins Best Actress. I’ll be pleased if Morgan Freeman wins Best Supporting Actor. And I won’t complain if Clint Eastwood wins Best Actor (although I’d prefer to see Dicaprio or Foxx win.) Best director? Perhaps, although I’d give it to Michel Gondry or Zhang Yimou or Scorsese first. Best adapted screenplay? Absolutely!! Best Picture? Well, given the films that the Academy is likely to nominate, yeah, I think it should win. But my vote would go to Eternal Sunshine or The Incredibles before it would go to this. Still, it’s deserving of honors and I won’t fuss if it wins.

Here’s the rub: Don’t read any reviews! (Except mine, at CT Movies on Friday.) The film’s third act takes a left turn, and it’s a much better film if you don’t see it coming. The problem is that almost every review I’ve read gives away what happens.

You’ve been warned.

I do disagree with the ethics of some of the characters’ decisions, but that’s a small complaint. And while some of the characters choose unwisely, the film allows for the viewer to disagree with the decisions while still sympathizing deeply with their predicament. The film is so very very rich.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has two passions: writing fiction, and celebrating art — music, cinema, photography, literature — through writing and teaching. He is the author of a “memoir of dangerous moviegoing” — Through a Screen Darkly. And his four-novel fantasy series, The Auralia Thread, which begins with Auralia's Colors, was published by Random House. He speaks at universities and conferences around the world about understanding art through eyes of faith. He is earning his MFA in Creative Writing at Seattle Pacific University, where he has worked for 11 years as an editor, writer, and communications project manager. His work has been recognized in The New Yorker, TIME, The Seattle Times, IMAGE, Ravi Zacharias International — and Christianity Today, where he served as a film journalist for more than a decade. He recently began a weekly column called "Listening Closer" for Christ and Pop Culture.

  • Rob

    Cool post, I love metaphilm! Haven’t read it in a while. They have a great article on the philosophy of Woody Allen that’s a good read. Inspired me to go out and buy the book.