The true story of James Braddock, a washed-up contender who fought
the champ during the Great Depression, becoming an inspiration.
Cinderella Man (2005)
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman
Starring Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti,
Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill,
Rosemarie DeWitt, Linda Kash
Oscar Nominations - Best Supporting Actor (Paul Giamatti),
Best Film Editing, Best Makeup
Cinderella Man is an uplifting, very well-acted sports drama that reminds all of us how much we have to be thankful for and shows us how nothing can happen if we don't have faith in ourselves. This is the true story of legendary boxing champ James J. Braddock, who was thought to be past his prime when he was offered an exhibition bout with the second-ranked fighter in the world. One sudden victory later and Braddock was all the boxing community could talk about. His legend spread throughout New York and New Jersey like wildfire, making him a true people's champion.
Russell Crowe portrays Braddock as an everyman who only wants to support his family after the Great Depression shattered his hopes of becoming a top contender. Crowe's subdued and down-to-earth performance ensures Braddock's legacy lives on through this fantastic film. Alongside him are Renée Zellweger (who I can't really stand) as Braddock's wife Mae, and Paul Giamatti, who nearly steals the show as Braddock's friend and trainer Joe Gould. Honestly, what surprised me the most was Craig Bierko (of Scary Movie 4 fame) as the frightfully imposing heavyweight champ Max Baer. Having seen his comedic role first, his performance as Baer convinced me that he has serious unused potential.
Cinderella Man does a brilliant job of showing the sleaziness and greed behind the early days of boxing, particularly how the money always came out on top no matter who was destroyed in the ring. Braddock's fight to the top is just one of the many stories that could be told about that era. It's a bright light amidst the darkness called the Great Depression. Braddock helped remind hundreds of people that there was hope still left in the world, so long as a dock worker from Jersey could get a shot at the title.