2004 Top 10 - #6

December 25, 2004
A thought by James Berardinelli

#6: Million Dollar Baby : One could make a strong argument that this is the best movie Clint Eastwood has ever been involved in, either in front of or behind the camera. Although Million Dollar Baby will be classified as a "sports movie" by many, such a pat label diminishes the power and scope of this emotionally wrenching production. If you're one of those who doesn't cry at movies, this may test the dryness of your tear ducts. Million Dollar Baby is about three characters (played by Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank) who happen to be in the business of sports. The heart and soul of the film has little to do with what goes on in the ring (the boxing sequences tend to be perfunctory). Instead, Eastwood concentrates on how the members of this trio interact, and, ultimately, the agonizing decision that one must make out of friendship and love. With the exception of an irritating and over-the-top performance by a secondary character who gets more screen time than is warranted, this is a nearly perfect movie. I wish more English-language dramas were like this one. Of all the Hollywood-financed motion pictures to arrive in theaters this year, Million Dollar Baby is the best.