Tuesday, March 1, 2011


We've just been treated to the venerable Academy Awards celebrating the BEST movies made but what are the WORST movies ever made and couldn't some of the WORST movies ever made also have won Academy Awards?

My answer is YES. Definitely YES. There are a number of movies that won BEST PICTURE that I hate. One of those might be the recent winner "No Country for Old Men" except that I only watched the first one and half minutes before leaving the theater. (Fortunately it was a multi-plex so I just went into another room and watched another film). Cause I knew that I didn't need to see how Javier Bardem was going to find new and different cruel ways to kill people for two hours longer. And yet some people, like my sister in law, loved that movie. And it won a heap of Oscars.

But there is one movie that I did watch from start to finish that I totally despise and it also won BEST PICTURE.  In my opinion MILLION DOLLAR BABY is the worst movie ever made. Not because of its production values or the directing or the acting -- all of which were excellent. But because of the MESSAGE of the movie. Now you may ask: What is the message of a movie? And I will tell you quite simply that the message is what you carry away from the movie, it's the underlying truth of the movie -- it's what it's REALLY about -- and sometimes even the people who make the movie don't even know....

But the underlying message in Million Dollar Baby is that spunky, talented, determined young women end up in a hospital bed wishing they were dead and biting off their tongues until a self-absorped daddy figure kindly pulls the plug and takes them out of their misery. 

No, I don't think Clint Eastwood knew that his movie was cruel and vengeful toward energetic, ambitious young woman at least not on a conscious level ( on an unconcious level he may have because he's had a few forceful young women in his life who didn't make him happy). Nevertheless it's impossible for the ordinary movie-goer to walk away from that movie and not think WOW the ending of this movie sure is different from Rocky or The Fighter or Cinderella Man. Especially Rocky -- because that movie is typical of the down and outer who works his ass off, literally and figuratively, but despite all huge odds ultimately wins the match, wins the girl, wins the OSCAR, becomes such a super-hero we can't get rid of the dude.

That's not what happens to the enterprising boxer Maggie (Hilary Swank) . It could happen but it doesn't happen. Instead she gets thrown an ugly punch by a tough black female fighter and falls and hits her head and the rest is misery. Really deep dark gruesome misery. And why does this make me mad, really spitting mad -- is that young women who are talented and spunky and determined need to know that they can win, just like Rocky, they can overcome the odds (of their upbringing or their education or their appearance == cause that still really matters with girls -- or whatever their challenges are) and go to the top, the very top. They too need to believe they can get the man and the money and the applause or whatever they set their heart on...they are not going to end up wrecked and ruined and needing some patriarchal dude to alleviate their distress.

I wish this movie would disappear. The fact that it was well acted, etc. just means that its message becomes stronger and more persuasive. And don't think young women don't get it. They do. So I ardently hope some day Clint Eastwood will make a movie with production values as good as Million Dollar Baby but with an entirely different message for young women -- and that movie also will win an Oscar.