Clint Eastwood in the 2000s
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In 2000, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in Space Cowboys, which also starred Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and James Garner. Eastwood plays Frank Corvin, a retired NASA engineer called upon to save a failing Russian satellite. Space Cowboys was one of the year's commercial hits and was generally well-received, with a 79% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The film received a moderately favorable review from Roger Ebert, who remarked, "it's too secure within its traditional story structure to make much seem at risk—but with the structure come the traditional pleasures as well... Eastwood as director is as sure-handed as his mentors, Don Siegel and Sergio Leone. We leave the theater with grave doubts that the scene depicted in the final feel-good shot is even remotely possible, but what the hell; it makes us smile."
In 2002, Eastwood played an ex-FBI agent on the track of a sadistic killer (Jeff Daniels) in the thriller Blood Work, which was loosely based on the 1998 novel by the same name from Edgar Award-winning writer Michael Connelly. The film was a failure, grossing just $26.2 million on an estimated budget of $50 million and received mixed reviews, with many critics finding it well-made but marred by lethargic pacing. A. O. Scott of The New York Times believed that the film was too similar to many other Eastwood films, although he commented that, "there is something comforting in seeing this old warhorse trot gamely out of the gate for yet another run on familiar turf." Despite the lackluster performance at the box office and mixed reception, Eastwood won the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival.
In 2003, Eastwood and Warner Brothers purchased the film rights to James R. Hansen's First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, the authorized biography of astronaut Neil Armstrong. No production date was announced and the film has still not been made. Next, Eastwood directed the crime drama Mystic River, a film about murder, vigilantism, and sexual abuse written by Brian Helgeland, based on the novel by Dennis Lehane. Starring were Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, and Laurence Fishburne. It was shot on location in Boston. Mystic River was received well by critics and viewers. The film won two Academy Awards, Best Actor for Penn and Best Supporting Actor for Robbins, and garnered nominations for Best Director and Best Picture. The film has an 88% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The film grossed $90 million domestically on a budget of $30 million.
In 2005, Eastwood found both critical and commercial success with Million Dollar Baby. The boxing drama won four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Hilary Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman). Eastwood received a nomination for Best Actor, and the trio was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. Eastwood also received a Grammy nomination for composing the film's score. Million Dollar Baby was in theaters from late January to early June 2005, and was his highest-grossing film at the time, with box office receipts of $216 million.
In 2006, Eastwood directed two films about the battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. The first one, Flags of Our Fathers, focused on the men who raised the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi. The second one, Letters from Iwo Jima, dealt with the tactics of the Japanese soldiers on the island and the letters they wrote to family members. Letters from Iwo Jima was the first American film to show a war issue completely from the view of an American enemy. Both films were highly praised by critics and garnered several Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture for Letters from Iwo Jima. In 2008, Eastwood directed Changeling, which is based on a true story, and stars Angelina Jolie. After releasing in several film festivals, the film grossed over $110 million, the majority of which came from foreign markets.
After four years away from acting, Eastwood ended his "self-imposed acting hiatus" with Gran Torino. It grossed close to $30 million during its wide release opening weekend in January 2009, making Eastwood, at age 78, the oldest leading man to reach number one at the box office. Eastwood directed, starred, held a producer role, and co-wrote the theme song for the film. Biographer Marc Eliot called Eastwood's role "an amalgam of the Man with No Name, Dirty Harry, and William Munny, here aged and cynical but willing and able to fight on whenever the need arose." Gran Torino grossed over $268 million worldwide in theaters and is the highest-grossing film of Eastwood's career so far without adjustment for inflation. Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer stated that Eastwood "... caps his career as both a director and an actor with his portrayal of a heroically redeemed bigot of such humanity and luminosity as to exhaust my supply of superlatives." Eastwood has said that the role will most likely be the last time he acts in a film.
In 2009, Eastwood directed Invictus, with Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as rugby team captain François Pienaar. John Carlin, author of the book on which the film is based, sold the film rights to Freeman. Then in 2011, Clint Eastwood collaborated with Brad Paisley to make the song "Eastwood".
- Ebert, Roger (August 4, 2000). "Space Cowboys". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010.
- Scott, A. O. (August 9, 2002). "Blood Work (2002)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010.
- "Clint Eastwood to Produce and Direct Film Based on Life of Neil Armstrong". Allbusiness.com. March 12, 2003. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010.
- "Mystic River: Story". Warner Brothers. Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. Retrieved April 29, 2010.
- "Acclaim flows for 'Mystic River' at Oscars". Reuters. March 2, 2004. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
- "Mystic River: Top Critics". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- "Mystic River". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 4, 2009.
- Roberts & Skutt (2006), p.689
- Eliot, p.313
- Eliot, p.320
- Eliot, p.327
- Pamela McClintock (March 10, 2009). "Clint mints overseas box office". Variety. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010.
- Turan, Kenneth (December 12, 2008). "Review: 'Gran Torino'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010.
- Eliot, p.329
- Eliot, p.330
- Jamieson, Alistair (November 23, 2008). "Clint Eastwood to retire from acting". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on December 12, 2010.
- Keller, Bill. – "Entering the Scrum". – The New York Times Book Review. August 17, 2008.