Even those that are completely immune to the excitement of “baseball fever” will still find Moneyball to be an infectious drama. The World Series of cinema ceremonies, the Academy Awards, has also recognized this home run of a biographical sports film with six Oscar nominations – including Best Picture. But why would Moneyball, a movie about trading professional baseball players using math instead of experienced talent scouts, spark so much critical acclaim and over $100 million in box office receipts?
Brad Pitt’s compelling performance as Billy Beane, the real life Major League Baseball general manager of the Oakland Athletics, is the game winning grand slam in Moneyball. Pitt handles Beane’s emotional range of completely confident to utterly enraged with effortless flair. After suffering a loss to the lavishly financed New York Yankees in the 2001 playoffs and the departure of three of his biggest star players – Beane needs a miracle.
This granted wish emerges in the form of Peter Brand, played by the normally comedic actor Jonah Hill (Superbad). This role as Billy Beane’s much younger assistant with a revolutionary scouting formula shows that Hill can mix humorous quirks with acting ability worth every second of screen time. Moneyball begins to throw its hardball pitches as Brand’s player-picking strategy is met with plenty of objection as it makes traditional talent scouts appear obsolete.
With a cast like Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Moneyball director Bennett Miller (Capote) has assembled his own dream team. Great acting allows Moneyball to keep points on the scoreboard, but the thrill of the game is established by the engaging screenplay written by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network).
The story’s structure consists of Billy Beane’s past as a young baseball player recruited by the New York Mets overlapping with his present predicament. The witty dialogue in Moneyball manages to make even potentially sleep-inducing scenes about baseball statistics seem as snappy as a stand-up comedian’s HBO special. Moneyball is a victorious true story that allows audience’s to understand the Oakland Athletics’ franchise dilemmas without needing an internship in their front office.