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Knockout!

The Fighter (2010)
Screenplay by: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson
Story by: Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, and Keith Dorrington
Directed by: David O. Russell
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee

Synopsis: This is true story of boxer Micky Ward (Wahlberg), who won the world welterweight title with help from his half brother Dicky Eklund (Bale), a former boxer and cocaine addict.

This movie really was very good. One of my friends saw it right before the Academy Awards in February, and she was rooting for it to win Best Picture. Now that I've finally watched it, I can understand why she felt this way (although I was rooting for The Social Network with The King's Speech as my second choice -- both deserving films). This is one of those sports movies that's not really about sports. It's about family; it's about a community coming together to support own of its own; it's about the everyday struggles of the working class; it's trying to do everything you can to get up off the dirt after you've been knocked down by disappointment time and time again. I was inspired.

Melissa Leo and Christian Bale won Oscars for their supporting roles, and those wins were well-deserved. Leo plays Ward-Eklund family matriarch Alice Ward, who manages Micky's boxing career. Alice only wants what's best for her son, but she can be incredibly overbearing and a lot of the time she just doesn't listen. There were moments in the film when I really just wanted to reach through the screen and slap her in the face and say, "Pay attention to what is really going on here!" I was frustrated with Alice throughout most of the movie, which I think was the goal of the director. Leo was flawless as an inherently flawed mother. Bale was equally wonderful as Dicky, whose crack addiction and criminal convictions cause major setbacks in brother Micky's career. Dicky has a bigger-than-life personality and a way of constantly diverting attention away from Micky and to himself. That personality trait (flaw) coupled with his drug habit is a recipe for disaster. Once again, Bale lost a huge amount of weight to play this role. He looks emaciated (but less so than he did in The Machinist) and could definitely pass for a junkie.

I thought Mark Wahlberg did a fantastic job as Micky. In a family full of huge personalities (check out his seven -- yes, SEVEN -- sisters, who run in a pack and spend the whole film being obnoxious), Micky's the quiet one. It's an understated performance, and I wish Wahlberg had gotten more recognition for his work.

My favorite character in the movie was Micky's dad (Alice's husband) George Ward, played by Jack McGee. George is smart. He recognizes Micky will never win a title without some major changes pertaining to his training and management, and he risks a lot to help Micky find success. He's a good husband and father, which is saying a lot when you look at his crazy, dysfunctional family. Any man who can tolerate Alice and seven annoying daughters/step-daughters is a saint in my book!

If you haven't gotten a chance to see The Fighter yet, please watch it. It's well written, well acted, and well directed by David O. Russell, and it deserves even more love than it's already gotten this year.