Director: Bennett Miller
Writer: Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin
Stars: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Phillip Seymour Hoffman
What’s not to love about Moneyball? Absolutely nothing. One week later and there is a new best movie of the year.
The story is great and well paced. It follows Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) efforts to create a winning baseball team on a shoestring budget. After losing his star players to richer teams, Billy needs to find a new way of doing things. Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill)–the statistics man he discovers on a trading trip to the Cleveland Indians. Together they shake up the establishment and create a winning baseball team, but like Rocky before it, not a championship team.
What sets baseball movies apart from other sports films is the length of the season. It’s easier to create conflict and drama when your regular season has 160 games. It allows you to have the losing stretches where everyone inside & outside the organization is against you and then be able to turn them and the team around to start winning. What’s also great about this film is that it is based on a true story–for the most part this did happen, with the exception of the Peter Brand character.
The Billy Beane character loves baseball and the wheeling and dealing of his position, but he also understands that he is running a business. He gives great management lessons to Peter and forces him to grow as a leader. And Beane, as the GM, is there to make the tough decisions for the success of the team.
Brad Pitt is excellent. But even better is the interplay between him and Jonah Hill. They have a natural ease and believability together. The audience feels for them and wants them to succeed. The same can also be said for the back and forth with Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The friction between the Pitt and Hoffman characters is palpable.
The film also looks great. The director, Bennett Miller, shows the big difference big money makes to a professional baseball team–or any team for that matter. There is no starker contrast than the offices of the Cleveland Indians versus the offices of the Oakland A’s. The former having large private offices and a large staff dressed in suits & ties; the latter having used furniture and basically looking like the old Barney Miller set. Moneyball doesn’t have to be seen on the big screen, but it should be.