Deep Impact

Two comet films enter, one comet film leaves.

The summer of ’98 featured Michael Bay’s Armageddon versus this more-melancholy disaster film, and I prefer the latter.

Sure, Mimi Leder’s flick lays on the cheese pretty thick, but it’s better-acted, far more emotional, and tries to be more than just two hours-plus of blow-em-up special effects.

When the fiery finale arrives, and we lose a chunk of the name cast, we’ve come to care deeply about their fates.

Téa Leoni’s whispered “Daddy…” as she clutches Maximilian Schell on the beach stabs me to the core.

It’s raining space debris, and tears.

 

Million Dollar Baby

Worth every penny.

Clint Eastwood nabbed his second Best Director Oscar for this emotion-packed tale of life and death in the boxing ring.

And, like most of his work, there is not an ounce on fat on it.

Famous for working quickly and politely, the man who would be viewed as one of our best directors if the whole “last of the true movie stars” thing didn’t always come up first, he gets in, gets out, and lets the story carry the day.

Guiding Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman to Oscars of their own, Eastwood is a master at work.

 

Unforgiven

A duster, a squint, and you sold me.

I vividly remember an early teaser trailer in 1992 for this very-deserving Oscar winner, a coming attraction special which began with our granite-hewed hero standing with his back to the camera.

Then he turned and shot us the kind of glare he specializes in, one which turns knees to jelly and sets off fireworks in the brain.

“Clint Eastwood is … Unforgiven.”

Bam. That’s all it took to sell a nation on the Western swan song of a sagebrush legend.

The film was dang near flawless, and the advertising was spot-on.

Poetry, really.

Gone Baby Gone

Embrace the pain.

There isn’t a whole lot of happiness on display in this riveting crime thriller, which follows the disappearance of a young Boston girl.

Lives are ripped apart, on both sides of the law, in a beautifully bleak tale based on a book by Dennis Lehane, who gave us the equally hardscrabble Mystic River.

Ben Affleck, kickstarting a second career as a director, lets his powerhouse cast rip into the material, full to the brim with betrayal, angst, and hard-luck people chasing redemption.

Hits like a shot to the gut, and stings for a very long time.