Moneyball (2011) Review | Jamie Daily

Moneyball (2011)
84th Academy Awards 2012
5/5 Stars
Nominated for 6 awards.
Nominated for Best Picture (Michael De LucaRachael HorovitzBrad Pitt), Best Actor (Brad Pitt), Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Film Editing (Christopher Tellefsen), Sound Mixing (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco, Ed Novick), and Writing-Adaptation (Steven ZaillianAaron Sorkin, Stan Chervin).
Watched September 2, 2012.

 

 

“Baseball is a business.  Only we fans love it as a game” (Roger Ebert).

 

If you watched and enjoyed The Social Network, you should also enjoy this Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian script with a story less about the game and more about the management and business-driven backstory that the fans never see.  From a constant barrage of trading players to a stats crazed assistant, the characters of Moneyball challenge the once long standing traditions and beliefs of the baseball scout’s world.

 

Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, the poorest team in major league baseball.  Although he constantly leads his low budget team to success, he is always saying that unless you win the last game of the year, no one cares.  In this brilliant look into the 2001 year for Beane, we see how he and his new Yale graduate assistant, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), twist the scouting process to favor their payroll.  Brand was an economics major and has probably never played baseball in his life, but his obsession with the game leads him to have a deep understanding of the theories of one Bill James, author of a book that challenges the norms of baseball.  The traditional way of scouting is parodied in the film as being obsessed with the look of the player over the effectiveness.  Beane and Brand decide to flip the tables by buying runs and wins instead of multi-million dollar stars.

 

Although the film was originally dropped by Sony and went through a few directors, Pitt stuck by the project and was rewarded by a classic Brad Pitt performance and academy nomination, well deserved.  His character has depth and heartache–being cared about by only his ex-wife and daughter.  In his adolescence, he rejected a full ride scholarship to Stanford in order to play baseball.  When that didn’t pan out, he moved into management, where he is driven by a deep hatred of loss.  His baseball superstitions run deep and prevent him from ever watching a game.  Therefore, we as the audience rarely see more than a few snips of an actual game, but are instead treated to Beane’s occasional sports radio, restless driving, or persistent work out sessions.

 

Jonah Hill is likewise wonderful in this film, but in contrast to Pitt is in a role very unlike those of his past.  His general comedy acts disappear in this quiet, shy wasp of an analytic.  The only thing better than his performance is that he earned his first nomination.

 

Beyond the notable acting, the cinematography is darker, grainier, and more beautiful than many high definition shots of the big blockbusters of today.  The sound mixing is to die for.  I have yet to see Hugo, which won this category, but at the moment I am sorely disappointed that Moneyball did not.

 

Despite how many times I have seen this slow moving, two hour film, I can’t stop loving it.  The contradicting character types, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe, Chris Pratt as Scott Hatterberg, the contrasts between the Athletics and the Boston Red Sox–everything comes together to form a formidable opponent to many nominees.  Apparently the Academy and I do not share opinions about what Moneyball should and should not have won.

 

Please do yourselves a favor and add this Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill home run to your ever growing list of films to see! (Did you see what I did there?  Home run?  You can laugh, it’s okay.)

 

Sources: IMDBRotten TomatoesRolling StoneLA TimesNew York TimesAceShowBizRoger Ebert

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