Amongst the overgrown lineup of best picture nominations for the 83th annual Academy Awards (2011) was a movie only the closest movie-watchers would have known about.
It’s a true story about a California baseball manager, Billy Beane… hold on. This is a baseball movie that even the most adverse baseball critics will enjoy – my wife, for one. She doesn’t give two rats’ tails about baseball, but she’s watched this movie twice since we got it. In fact, Moneyball is hardly about baseball, but rather it’s about how a particular man chose a revolutionary path to running a failing professional baseball team.
The book, by Michael Lewis (The Blindside) can be found in the business section of the bookstore – not the sports section.
Brad Pitt portrays the insecure, rags-to-riches Oakland A’s manager with convincing skill and such an easy-going manner that it’s hard to recall that he’s regarded as Hollywood’s pretty-boy.
And Jonah Hill, an R-rated comedy regular, pulls off his role as the timid numbers-happy assistant with much more talent and raw humor than I’ve ever seen from him, spotlighting his acting skill with a deeper layer you’ll hope he keeps displaying in future roles.
Like Frost/Nixon, Moneyball is about putting it all out on the line. Even though pride and a posh career are at risk, Beane holds nothing back in order to jump head-first into an unexplored experiment in baseball management, budgeting, and putting faith in those who’ve yet to earn it.
There aren’t any special effects or explosions in this film, but the acting far outweighs any of those trivialities. I’m in the middle of the book right now, and though it’s mildly interesting, it’s not nearly as compulsive as director Bennett Miller’s take on the underdog story. You might even call it a milder version of a modern Cinderella tale.
Don’t wait to rent this movie, because you’ll want to watch it again and again in months to come. I nearly have withdrawals if I don’t watch it a couple of times during baseball season.
Another plus is that the great Philip Seymour Hoffman pops up every few scenes adding intensity and pressure to an already compelling story.
So, enjoy your weekend watching Moneyball. You’ll be thanking me when it’s over.