Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Brad Pitt; Jonah Hill; Philip Seymour Hoffman; Christ Pratt; Robin Wright.
Plot: Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.
Moneyball (2011) was a hit at the Academy Awards in 2012, notching 6 nominations. Not bad for a sports movie, huh? If that doesn’t say enough about how truly great this picture is, then the following review will most certainly try.
The movie was adapted for the screen by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), both of whom were nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay in 2012, and with good reason. Moneyball isn’t written solely as a Baseball fan’s movie, it’s written as a personal tale of overcoming disaster and reaching triumphant new heights, yet it still manages to romanticise the sport (consciously even to the characters) in such a way that even as a non-fan, you will for the protagonists to succeed. Even as someone who’s knowledgeable of the very recent real-life events that inspired this story, you feel the way the team is built on the line between success and failure and hope for them to overcome the odds anyhow. The story’s intricacies really work to build not only realism, but to reinforce the idea of the impossible being potentially as realistic as the everyday conversation – you see history being made and believe that it’s possible for the seemingly impossible to be achieved. In that respect, the writers have written the archetypal sports movie – this one just so happens to consciously avoid inspirational speeches.
Delivering the script are the on-point performances from Brad Pitt, the understated, humble and quietly passionate General Manager who believes almost entirely that he is ‘bad luck’ despite investing his whole livelihood into statistics; and Jonah Hill as Peter Brand, a ‘straight out of school’ statistician with a passion for the sport. Each role was played with terrific conviction, rightfully earning each of them Academy Award nominations. Jonah Hill, in particular, being excellent.
Surrounding them was an array of emerging talents. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) played the lovable underdog player on his way back from injury, his performance no doubt earning him some credit in the Hollywood realm. Robin Wright, as the wife of GM Billy Beane, wasn’t on screen very much but managed to add to the story nonetheless, while Philip Seymour Hoffman as the coach of the team, was typically excellent as the old-school philosopher opposing Beane’s vision with a fierce stare and reluctant acceptance of the changing times.
Overall, it was a picture that was delivered excellently by all involved; a film that so accurately portrayed the passion of a sport while being far enough removed from it to be hugely enjoyable for non-fans too. With the direction coming from someone who was originally a cinematographer, you can bet it looked great as well. Moneyball will go down as a modern classic of the sport movie genre.