Cinderella Man

Hollywood goes undefeated in its last two major boxing movies with Cinderella Man, a grand reunion for Russell Crowe and director Ron Howard. After last year’s Oscar-winning take on boxing with the excellent Million Dollar Baby, Cinderella Man qualifies as 2005’s first true Oscar contender, and another good film on the sport. Jim J. Braddock was an extraordinary boxer, coming out of nowhere during the Great Depression to give the United States something to cheer about. After a quick rise and hard fall in the sport, he came back with a legendary run at the heavyweight championship of the world when he fought Max Baer in 1935. This moment is meticulously and excitingly captured in Howard’s film. Crowe, who has had a semi-casual but quality career as of late, making one picture every two years, delivers what might be his best performance yet as Braddock. Physically impressive in the ring and very effective in the emotional scenes, Crowe makes Braddock a realistic symbol of survival and perseverance.

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