As I mentioned in my review of Warrior just two weeks ago, I am not a fan of sports films – but just as Warrior did, Moneyball has taken me by surprise and made me love the genre. This well-rounded, pitch perfect film deserves to be seen by the masses, baseball lovers and haters alike.
For those who don’t follow Major League Baseball (MLB), Moneyball tells the based-on-a-true-story tale of the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane in the 2001 and 2002 baseball seasons. The film opens with the A’s losing their division finals against the Yankees by just one point. That near-win tipped the scales for Beane. His $38 million team losing to a $120 million team was inevitable – but it shouldn’t be. The unfairness of the game’s financing threw him overboard, leading him to make the most unconventional decision for his team that ended up changing the game forever.
Moneyball is a mathematical theory that had never been put to the test prior to Beane’s full-scale experiment. According to the theory, each player’s statistics can be converted to numerical values. Those values can be plugged into algorythms that give each player a rating, which can be plugged into another algorythm that gives each team a rating. No matter how misfit your cheap team may be, if your team’s number is better than the other teams’, you theoretically win.
Beane got the idea from a recently graduated economist named Peter Brand. After hiring Brand, Beane fired his head recruiter and gave Brand the job of find new cheap misfit players to raise the teams value – and it started to work.
Brad Pitt brings Billy Beane’s life to the big screen in a multifaceted genuine manner. Along with his performance in Tree of Life, it’s very possible that he could receive two Best Actor nominations this year. Because Moneyball is just as much about his character as it is the game of baseball, there is more than enough room to emotionally dive into his character and understand exactly why he does the odd things he does. You understand exactly why his romance of the game is his number one love – and you never fault him for it because of that understanding.
If you, like me, are tired of seeing Jonah Hill play Jonah Hill in every movie, be prepared for a shocker as flexes his acting muscles and plays a real character. Given the right script and a director who knows that he works best when he’s controlled, Hill can truly add to a film – and a dramatic one at that.
Penned by the writer of The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin) and the writer of Schindler’s List (Steve Zaillian), the screenplay for Moneyball is perfection on paper. Luckily, director Bennett Miller understood their exact tone and pacing and perfectly put it on screen.
No matter what you think of the trailers or baseball in general, Moneyball is not a film to be missed – it should be the next film you see on the big screen.
Photo credit: Sony Pictures