Based on a true story, The Changeling is most definitely going to get Jolie an Oscar nomination, and may even earn her the win; aside from that, frankly, there's not much else in the movie. I know Kim liked Changeling a lot more than I did -- you can read her review at the link above; for me, it was just more of the massive, ham-fisted manipulation Clint Eastwood's brought to the screen in the over-praised, clumsy, phony Million Dollar Baby. There's no ambiguity in Changeling-- Jolie is a suffering, strong saint, the cops who have brought her the wrong child and refuse to acknowledge they've done wrong are moustache-twirling bad guys out of a silent film. And even when it's broad, it's bland -- there's no pulp or muck to it that might make it more than just a showcase for Jolie's misty-eyed maternal majesty on the big screen.
There's going to be a lot said about Angelina Jolie's acting in this film, but I think there's more to be said about some of the other bad acting in it; Jason Butler Harner plays Gordon Northcott, a man who may be linked to Walter's disappearance, as a rancid piece of ham. Any suspense or sense of possibility leaks out of the film the second Harner's on screen, and later in the film, we're given a performance so overdone that I had to double-check the end credits to be sure that the name of the character he was playing was, in fact, "Gordon Northcott" and not, say, "Crazy Eyes McGee."
J. Michael Straczynski's script takes a fascinating, complex real story and reduces it to a few shouty moments and the most obvious plot points and character arcs you can think of. Changeling isn't as rankly offensive and blatantly manipulative as Million Dollar Baby was -- at the very least, we don't have Morgan Freeman's voice-over letting us know how we should be feeling during every scene -- but it's nowhere near as good, strong and interesting as Unforgiven (still Eastwood's best film) or even Mystic River. The story of what happened to Christine Collins is fascinating, and there are so many ways a director could have gone with it -- social critique, uneasy suspense, real drama, Kafka-esque metaphor -- instead of just giving us a Lifetime movie draped in expensive period production values; watching Eastwood and Straczynski's take on turning fact into fiction, it's fairly apparent something got lost in the exchange.