Moneyball, based on the book of the same title, is a movie about a baseball team manager, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), in his quest to build a formidable team that can go through the year long tournament. To do so, he enlists the help of Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who has a theory that building a team not based on a player’s reputation but based on his statistical averages is the way to go. The idea proves tantalizing for Beane seeing as his team, the Oakland Athletics, has a very dismal budget to begin with. As he put it, “There are the rich teams, then there are the poor teams, then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us.”
So instead of splurging on A-list players, Beane hunts down players whose days are apparently behind them. Some have nerve injuries to their elbows, some are too old to play and others have a bad reputation behind them. The critics will rise against Beane and his experiment but he perseveres in an attempt to prove everyone wrong. Moneyball is based on a true story.
To say Brad Pitt delivers a tour de force performance as Billy Beane would be an understatement. I have not watched all the Oscar nominated actors yet but I can safely say that among all the actors who have gotten and are getting award-hype this season, Brad Pitt is without a doubt my favorite so far. He’s being pitted against George Clooney in The Descendants (check my review) as the frontrunners. No offense to George Clooney but Pitt’s performance is lightyears better. It is more engaging, more thrilling, more interesting, more nuanced. It is exquisite. He portrays his character with the exact amount of strength and emotion that it needs. At times, he shows Beane’s fragile side as he faces the looming fear of failure and at other times, as he sits in the changing rooms behind the stadium, he shows undeniable resolve. Sometimes he shows both in one frame. You can actually say that Moneyball is Billy Beane and Billy Beane is Moneyball. The symbiosis between this character and the movie is that strong. Brad Pitt embodies Billy Beane perfectly.
Jonah Hill is very interesting as well as Beane’s assistant. His performance has been rightfully nominated for many awards, including an Oscar. In fact, one of the driving forces for Moneyball is the chemistry exhibited on screen by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman, as the Athletics’ manager, is great as always in a more silent yet comical performance.
Moneyball has a great screenplay as well, as only can be expected from The Social Network‘s Aaron Sorkin (check my review of The Social Network) and Steven Zaillian, responsible for this year’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (check my review), to accompany the all star cast it enlists. The movie flows smoothly, never feels slow. And for a movie about baseball, a sport that I don’t particularly understand, it rises above the toughness of the game and turns this movie into one that is truly heartfelt, comical at times and entertaining throughout.
At the end of the day, Moneyball isn’t a movie about baseball as it is about changing the game, defying the system and breaking the boundaries imposed by other people on you. It is a movie that defies the baseball genre in which many people categorize it and rises above every single other baseball movie ever made. In fact, Moneyball might even be the best sports-related movie ever made because it doesn’t dwell on the technicalities of the sports it portrays, it rises above it to show a humanitarian aspect that everyone can relate to.