Clint Eastwood received his second acting Oscar nomination for portraying Frankie Dunn in Million Dollar Baby.
Clint Eastwood's performance as Frankie Dunn is in many ways the later career Clint Eastwood character. The no nonsense tough aging guy, who doesn't take crap from no one but still is beaten down anyways in his own way, and has poor relations with his immediate family. Trust me later in his career Eastwood played a variation on this character several times, other examples include later in Gran Torino and earlier in Heartbreak ridge. Clint Eastwood really tends to be a guy who does not need to act to be tough he generally simply comes off that way.
His tough nonsense persona fits the character of Frankie Dunn well, but for some reason now and again during his performance I felt Eastwood trying extra to make him seem even gruffer. He is Clint Eastwood he does not need to seem any gruffer, he is gruff enough as it is causing his performance to feel for me a bit forced at times. This does not really hurt his performance, I just feel he did not need to do that, he's Clint Eastwood after all. Most of the time though he is just his normal gruffness which works well for his performance, and Clint Eastwood, is completely believable most of the time as Frankie even when some his dialogue is a bit cliched such as everything about his belief that women can't be fighters.
Sometimes I feel Eastwood is a better screen presence than an actor who really tries to develop a unique character. I was never amazed by Eastwood's performance really even though he did just a fine job most likely better than anyone else could do early on since Eastwood fits the character very well. I still though never felt he made Frankie a really compelling character especially through the first half.
I really felt he was doing a usual Eastwood performance which is good, and something only Eastwood can do, but still it does not make it a great performance. Later after the big change in the film, I thought his performance was emotionally correct, as in he did not express the wrong emotions, nor did ever ever express these emotions in a false fashion. I though never felt his performance became that emotionally powerful though. The result of his whole performance was just fine technically hitting the right notes, but never generating truly great moments for me anyways.