×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Million Dollar Baby

Release date: Dec. 15

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Oscar alumni: Clint Eastwood (director, producer, “Unforgiven”); Hilary Swank (actress, “Boys Don’t Cry”); Joel Cox (editor, “Unforgiven”); Henry Bumstead (production designer, “The Sting,” “To Kill a Mockingbird”); Albert S. Ruddy (producer, “The Godfather”)

Despite a high-concept, upbeat-sounding title, “Million Dollar Baby” is not a turn toward lighter fare for Clint Eastwood after last year’s murder drama “Mystic River,” at least according to early auds.

The “Million Dollar Baby” of the title is Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who plays an aspiring boxer. Among her trainers are ex-pugilists Eastwood and Morgan Freeman.

Despite the “Rocky”-like trappings of an athlete who struggles against all odds to succeed, the film might be categorized as more of a character drama along the lines of “Girlfight,” in that the central conflict is between woman and trainer, and their growing respect for one another.

Eastwood’s work with actors, including Sean Penn and Gene Hackman — who won Oscars for “Mystic River” and “Unforgiven,” respectively — has become a directorial calling card, as has his on-time, on-budget rep. That’s no mean feat in a Hollywood that is constantly fending off accusations of excess.

But, more important, critics and fans admire Eastwood’s no-frills style of filmmaking, with a lean and mean approach to story and character that eludes many of today’s tyro filmmakers schooled in commercials and musicvideos. The Oscar campaign for “Mystic” emphasized Eastwood’s comment that the film was an acting and storytelling showcase with no special effects.

Since “Boys Don’t Cry,” Swank has chosen eclectic fare, ranging from HBO’s “Iron Jawed Angels” to the bigscreen “Insomnia” with Al Pacino, proving that she can hold her own among the screen heavyweights. And Freeman, a three-time Oscar nominee who has worked with Eastwood in “Unforgiven,” has built a resume as a thoughtful, resourceful actor in the vein of Hackman.

Eastwood collaborates with his regular repertory, including veteran production designer Henry Bumstead; editor Joel Cox; and “Mystic River” d.p. Tom Stern, who has worked on more than a dozen Eastwood films in various capacities.

More Film

  • Bo Burnham34th Film Independent Spirit Awards,

    Bo Burnham Wants 'Eighth Grade' Star Elsie Fisher to Direct Him

    Bo Burnham won his third award in three weeks for “Eighth Grade” at the Spirit Awards and said he wants the film’s 15-year-old Elsie Fisher to direct him. “I’d love to work with Elsie again,” Burnham said backstage after winning the Best First Screenplay trophy.  “She wants to direct so I’d love to switch roles [...]

  • Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive

    Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Director Was Cheated Out of an Oscar Nomination

    “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” screenwriter Nicole Holofcener offered a blunt assessment of the lack of Academy Awards recognition for director Marielle Heller, and women directors everywhere. “I feel Marielle was cheated and I feel badly about that,” Holofcener said backstage after winning a Spirit Award for screenplay with Jeff Whitty. Holofcener was originally attached [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List

    The 2019 Independent Spirit Awards took place on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif., with Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” taking the top prize for best feature along with best director for Jenkins. Ethan Hawke and Glenn Close took the prizes for best male lead and best female lead, respectively. Bo Burnham took [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Hated It! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Gripe About the Oscars

    Watching the Academy Awards telecast, then grousing about it the next day, has become a hipster parlor game — it’s what the Complete Oscar Experience now is. The complaints are legion, and we all know what they are, because we’ve all made them. The show was too long. The host bombed. His or her opening [...]

  • Boots Riley arrives at the 34th

    Boots Riley: Spike Lee Yelled at Me After 'BlacKkKlansman' Criticism, But We're Good Now

    “Sorry to Bother You” director and musician Boots Riley, who wrote a scathing criticism of Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” for its positive representation of law enforcement, said that he and the “Do the Right Thing” auteur are good now. But it took some time (and drama) to get there. Last year, Riley called Lee’s Oscar-nominated “BlacKkKlansman” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content