Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2011. Columbia Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Michael De Luca Productions, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Specialty Films. Story by Stan Chervin, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, based on the book Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Cinematography by Wally Pfister. Produced by Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt. Music by Mychael Danna. Production Design by Jess Gonchor. Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone. Film Editing by Christopher Tellefsen. Academy Awards 2011. American Film Institute 2011. Boston Film Critics Awards 2011. Golden Globe Awards 2011. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2011. New York Film Critics Awards 2011. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2011. Toronto International Film Festival 2011. Washington Film Critics Awards 2011.
With the Oakland Athletics soon to suffer the loss of star players and the ball club not in its pinkest years, general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) has to find a way to put together a crack team of athletes on a constricted budget that will hopefully yield results on the field. A chance encounter with a geeky numbers expert (Jonah Hill) reveals to Beane the possibility of a new way of assembling a team: not just on the knowledge and instincts of scouts, but by crunching numbers in some obscurely magical way (the film doesn’t go too far out of its way to explain and, as an audience member, you don’t really mind) and realizing that there are players out there with downsides (known injuries, compromising lifestyles) that could actually work in the team’s favour. Beane takes a chance and alienates himself from close colleagues, including a very angry team captain (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and after a few initial failures begins to doubt his own wisdom. Is baseball a game that can be played off the field? Or is it all about the muscle and heart that the guys put in the heat of the game? This low-key film does the astonishing task of keeping your interest while avoiding all the clichés of baseball movies: there are no sweeping victories, no swells of music to the sound of a home run in the nick of time. That said, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian’s intelligent script is so determined to be brainy that at times it is more than a bit dry, and director Bennett Miller is so dead-set on making an anti-hoopla baseball film that it comes off almost dispassionate. Pitt is wonderfully subtle in the lead, emotionally volatile without ever showing off about it, and helps make up for the fact that the film runs about twenty minutes longer than it needs to.