Million Dollar Baby Clint Eastwood

There is, in the early moments of Clint Eastwood's Oscar-hogging boxing flick, Million Dollar Baby, some doubt about what period it's set in. With its grey-toned cinematography and ancient-looking boxing gym setting it could be set in almost any time in the last century. The gravitas of its elders, Eastwood as end-of-his-rope trainer/manager Frankie and Morgan Freeman as ex-boxer/caretaker Scrap, only adds to that feel. Enter a young(ish) fiery boxer named Maggie (Hilary Swank), a single-minded down-and-outer looking for a way out of her waitressing life, and you've got a sweaty rags to square ring riches story ripe for Oscar bait. And Million Dollar Baby is a fine, if occasionally ponderous, film entirely carried by the strength of its performances; nevertheless, its four-Oscar haul says much more about the weakness of last year's contenders than it does about the worthiness of this particular entry. This rather unnecessary two-disc edition of the movie puts in only a minimum of effort in showcasing the film; in terms of extras, only a featurette from the producers' point of view tells an interesting story; another "making of" is entirely perfunctory, while a James Lipton "trio" interview with the principles is so ridiculously sycophantic that he morphs into his own Saturday Night Live parody. It shies away from discussing the "controversial" ending that spins the film on its moral axis, and no one sits down for a commentary either. It's good work by talented people, but winning Best Picture was an even more unlikely success story than the one presented here. (Warner)