It's amazing that Moneyball
makes baseball statistics seem fascinating--but that's because it's not really a movie about numbers, and it's not really a movie about baseball, either. It's about what drives people to take risks--in this instance, Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), general manager of the Oakland A's, who's just had his best players poached by teams that can afford to pay a lot more. Fed up with how money twists the game, he listens to Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), who persuades him that certain players are being undervalued for trivial reasons--that statistics reveal hidden strengths that could, when used in the right combinations, produce a winning season. Beane takes Brand's advice, then has to fight everyone else around him to follow it through. Moneyball
skillfully takes the audience into Beane's psyche. Pitt is in excellent form; it's an understated but magnetic performance, the kind that rarely wins awards but should. Pitt has the physical presence of a former athlete and vividly expresses the mind of a man who's never achieved success but isn't ready to give up. Director Bennett Miller (Capote
) shapes the supporting cast (Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, and others less recognisable but just as solid) as carefully as Beane shapes his team. Miller has a few flashy (and highly effective) moments of sound manipulation and editing, but Moneyball
is carried by its superb performances. --Bret Fetzer
Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman star in this baseball drama co-written by 'The Social Network' (2010) screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Based on real events in 2002, the film follows the unconventional tactics employed by Billy Beane (Pitt), general manager of the cash-strapped Oakland Athletics baseball team, to rebuild his club after losing a few key players to the Major League. Beane enlists the services of Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Hill) to devise an unorthodox player selection system based on a sophisticated statistical analysis of each player's skills. As Billy and Peter start to build their team based on computer-generated data rather than the traditional scouting methods, they meet with resistance from old hands such as team manager Art Howe (Hoffman). But when the club begins a winning streak with its roster of inexpensive 'wild card' players, the naysayers are forced to admit that the scheme appears to be working.