I remember getting ready to watch a film (that I can't remember) and seeing a trailer for The Unforgiven. I thought that was the silliest thing ever. A western directed and staring a washed up actor. I laughed. Then it won the Oscar. Then I saw it followed by a nice meal of crow. I credit that "film" for letting me know there was a difference between "movies" and "films." I've lost it ever since at the movies.
Let me get it out of the way -- Mr. Eastwood is the greatest talent in Hollywood. For this film he deserves Oscar nods for directing, original score (yes original score), and acting. The man never stood so tall; he has never been more tough. Especially, when he weeps.
The film is about a female boxer named Maggie Fitzgerald. Hilary Swank plays her with such a combination of grit and charm, that she doesn't deserve an Oscar nomination. She deserves to be the only one nominated. She's that good. Clint Eastwood plays Frankie, the best cut man in the business. Frankie, grudgingly, becomes her manager. He's not too sure about managing a girl, but he sees the something special in Maggie. And of course Maggie lets him see what is special in him.
I can't give anymore of the plot away. But, I don't think if I did it would ruin this movie. Eastwood, now in his mid-seventies, is in such complete control of his talent the only comparison I can make is that of Micheal Jordon at the height of his game. He's that good. He's that flawless.
Working with a great script, by Paul Haggis, helps plenty. The script manages to be both funny and sad at the same time. Plus, it gives Morgan Freeman a chance to play a moral center of a film without becoming overbearing or stale (he plays that part a lot). Ms. Swank, in a year of good women's performances such as Kate Winslett in Eternal Sunshine and Nicole Kidman in Birth, is in a league of her own. She delivers her lines in a way that when she is happy she breaks your heart out of happiness and then turns around in the same sentence and breaks your heart out of sadness.
I thought Scorsese would be the shoe in for the director nomination and The Aviator would get best picture. I'm afraid if they do win, it will be because Eastwood has been there before.