Monster’s Ball (2001) (mini-review++)

(If you’re curious, my review process. It’s also pasted at the end of this post. I don’t believe in Rotten Tomatoes. I just believe in me.)

(***all-purpose SPOILER ALERT*** there may be some in this review)

acting 8

directing 8

effects 8

editing 8

writing 8


4 out of 5 🐙


This movie’s most important legacy is Halle Berry winning the first Best Actress Oscar for an African-American woman in the history of the Academy. A million critics before me have already commented on the spare and brutal performances of Peter Boyle, Heath Ledger, Sean Combs, Billy Bob Thornton, Mos Def, and Berry. The plot is barely a plot, but the cast just elevates a simple plot to profound grace. You’ve probably already read these things. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re looking for a light watch. It might harsh your mellow.

Oh right, the anecdotes.

First off, I was taking a screenwriting class in Bethesda, Maryland, at The Writers Center. It’s a great place to take very affordable seminars on all sorts of writing. I am in no way affiliated with the center. If you live within driving distance and want to hone your craft or learn a new one, check it out. We were talking about Berry’s Oscar win and someone asked the professor: “Hollywood is such a liberal place. Why didn’t a black woman win best actress ages ago?” The professor responded: “Just because you’re liberal doesn’t mean you’re not racist.”

The second anecdote is 2nd hand, but I think we can all relate to some extent. My cousin was watching this movie at home with her parents, two very conservative Catholic people. Not just politically conservative, but socially conservative as well. There is a very intense and famous and long sex scene in this movie. It’s not for the prudish. It’s not for my uncle and aunt. She had to sit there with them on their living room couch in the most awkward moment in her life. 







(1) Shark Wrighter (SW) Score: Based on a sum of 5 sub-scores (acting, directing, writing/story, effects: cinematography &/or animation &/or effects, editing) with 1 being terrible and 10 being terrific.

(2) Octopuses (0-5 🐙, with 5 being fantastic and 0 being feces)

(3) Octopuses are my unquantifiable feeling…not that SW score is scientific…but this one is even less so

(4) ++ This optional section includes any incredibly *brilliant observations that don’t fit into simple quantitative slices like the scores and octopuses *(they are likely NOT brilliant)


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