Moneyball (2011)

moneyball_2011_poster
Moneyball (2011)
  • Time: 133 min
  • Genre: Biography | Drama | Sport
  • Director: Bennett Miller
  • Cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Storyline:

Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane is handicapped with the lowest salary constraint in baseball. If he ever wants to win the World Series, Billy must find a competitive advantage. Billy is about to turn baseball on its ear when he uses statistical data to analyze and place value on the players he picks for the team.

3 comments

  • “Moneyball” is not a traditional sports movie, it’s more about business and different characters. The casting was very good for this movie! Bradd Pitt gives a wonderful performance as the General Manager, Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as the questioning manager. For the baseball-fans is this one of the best in this genre I guess! Even non-baseball fans will enjoy this well-written screenplay.

  • The team has just lost. They lost their playoff round, they lost their spirits, and, most of all, they’ve lost their three best players: Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen. Thanks to the prevalence of big-budget teams, smaller organizations like the A’s are losing all of their best players; one could even go as far as saying that these lesser franchises could be considered farm systems for the big boys in New York or Boston. As is his job, A’s GM Billy Beane is faced with filling three roster spots that the lost players once occupied. When he goes in the scouting meeting, all he hears is the same old jargon. Scouts repeat things like “five-tool player” and “a great-looking swing”, which reminds Beane of when he was a hot prospect coming out of high school. Having been the target of these scouts’ attention previously, Beane doesn’t trust the traditional player evaluation process, and that is where Peter Brand comes in.
    On a visit to the GM for the Cleveland Indians, Mark Shapiro, Billy fails to find a single trade, and he sees a man whispering advice to Shapiro’s assistant. As he leaves through the offices, Billy sees this same man at a cubicle, and he confronts him. The man’s name is Peter Brand, and after a few minutes, we learn that Peter is fresh out of Yale with a degree in Economics. This first meeting is where Brand reveals his unique player evaluation system. Just like Beane, Brand sees that the big budget teams are suffering from inflated contracts for some players, and they’re severely undervaluing others. Basing his idea off of a groundbreaking book by Bill James, Peter Brand uses a statistical data system that, in theory, will give the A’s a chance against the big budget organizations. After “buying” Peter from Cleveland, Beane gets set to revitalize Oakland, and immediately he knows that it will be a challenge.

    In an era where the contracts for major athletic talent are skyrocketing in price, the Oakland A’s were one of the first teams to go against the grain, and this film tells their story. The concept of using statistical analysis to judge talent rather than the traditional way was an unpopular idea back a decade or so ago, but nowadays it is a major familiarity. Thanks to the idea, many baseball teams have earned championship hardware, most notably the San Francisco Giants. As I have said before, I am a fully devoted Giants fan, and I can attest to the fact that the concept made famous across the Bay Bridge has found success on this side. GM Brian Sabean utilizes Moneyball’s key principles, and in turn has brought a trio of trophies home.
    The acting performances are very well executed, especially by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. Pitt’s role as the layered Billy Beane is great for the actor, and he played it perfectly. Pitt captures the troubling past that Beane had as a player, the difficulty as a divorced man with a growing daughter, and the rapid emotions that flow throughout a real-life baseball season. In a rare dramatic role, Jonah Hill is fantastic as the quirky Peter Brand, nailing both the serious and comical scenes throughout the film with relative ease.
    This film based on our national pastime received quite a lot of recognition from the public, including the Academy. Though it did not win any, Moneyball was nominated for six Oscar categories, most notably Best Picture, Best Actor (Pitt), Best Supporting Actor (Hill), and Adapted Screenplay. I personally believe that Hill’s performance and the screenplay were definitely deserving of an award.
    From the moment that some of you saw the basic storyline of this movie, you might have written it off as a sports movie; however, it is about so much more than just baseball. In this film, the baseball is simply the background setting, and the people behind the scenes are the real focus of the plot. Although quite a bit of the humor is baseball-related, it is still applicable to almost everyone.
    My one major disclaimer is the infrequent language. It’s a PG-13 rated film, and the language is deserving of it. A couple F-words and some smaller curses (sh**, a**, etc.) are uttered, but they’re applicable to their situation.

    Score: 8.5/10
    Comments: This is a fantastic sports-related movie, and I recommend to everyone who even remotely likes either sports or the people behind it.

    Did you like this post? Check out more at my blog! http://www.sportsandcelluloid.blogspot.com

  • Very few will catch this film because it is about baseball. Maybe hardly anyone at all as most Singaporeans would attest, for it is a sport that is rarely seen, let alone played here. To us, it is a complicated game involving loads of running, swinging, and catching. For the folks in America, it’s one of their most well-loved sports.

    So for them, the sport is the pull itself, with the added visual bonus of seeing Brad Pitt acting cool. For us, it is Pitt himself who draws us into the alien world of baseball, taking us through the mechanics of the sport with nonchalant ease.

    Pitt is more than just a handsome tour guide, though we would have been contented with that. He plays Billy Beane, the general manager of Oakland A, who with his overweight, Yale-educated sidekick, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), revolutionize the game with their use of statistical analyses to get potentially effective players at the cheapest of prices.

    Based on a true story, Beane created a team of what seemed like lazy misfits, who initially flopped, but later went on an astonishing record-breaking run with twenty consecutive wins. This is the stuff of legend, and it is tempting for filmmakers to make the next “inspirational sport movie” with Moneyball.

    However, for better or worse, Moneyball defies the tradition of such a genre that produced films like Rocky (1976), Chariots of Fire (1981), Invictus (2009), and most recently, Warrior (2011).

    Screenwriters Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, 1993; Gangs of New York, 2002), and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, 2010; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2011) forgo the epic, uplifting climax for a more in-depth look at the micro-level human drama behind-the-scenes. There is the requisite sequence of glorious triumph against the odds, which is by the way deftly executed, but it is downplayed in the larger scheme of things.

    The best parts of the film involve the interactions between Beane and Brand, and their interactions with the people involved with Oakland A, from the scouts to the players. Okay, that’s almost the entire film.

    Pitt gives a performance that reminds us of his hilarious role in the Coens’ Burn After Reading (2008), but it is nowhere as insane. In my opinion, Pitt has given a more memorable performance than fellow pal George Clooney of The Descendants (2011).

    The smart dialogue, quick exchange of glances, and awkward silences are perfectly captured. One outstanding example sees Beane picking three replacement players for his new team to the dismay of his fellow scouts, and using a nervous-looking Brand as a human calculator.

    Moneyball also shows director Bennett Miller to be a talent to be reckoned with. He previously directed the great Philip Seymour Hoffman to an Oscar win in Capote (2005). Speaking of which, Hoffman only has a small role here, which is quite a pity.

    Despite some excellent editing (of film and sound), Moneyball still feels lengthy. Perhaps there is too much micro-drama, and few truly inspiring moments. Still, this film is one to catch, and although it has been nominated for six Oscars, I suspect it will leave the glittering ceremony empty-handed.

    Verdict: Not as inspirational as expected, Moneyball forgoes epic, dramatic moments for the micro human drama that takes place behind the scenes, forging a more intimate look at the mechanics of one of America’s most-loved sports.

    GRADE: B+

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