Moneyball

In honor of the 84th Academy awards, I want to talk about the movie Moneyball. It is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound Mixing, and stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

I watched Moneyball about a month ago but I had a hard time getting started on writing this piece. There was no doubt that Moneyball was a great film, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on what it was that had me captivated and invested in a subject that I cared little about. When it finally hit me, it was so obvious that I couldn’t help but laugh. After all is said and done, Moneyball is just a great feel-good story.

The movie focuses on the 2002 Oakland A’s and their unorthodox approach to the game of baseball. Rather than scouting out players based on their gut feelings and previous ‘baseball’ knowledge, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and his new assistant Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), set out to draft players based on numbers and statistics. Of course this shakes up some feathers within the organization and among the fans. Along with this, the movie interweaves Beane’s personal story and his lack of success in professional baseball. This aspect adds a lot of depth to Beane’s character and really gives the audience an emotional outlet to connect with.

Moneyball gives the audience a glimpse into the inner workings of the daily dealings and politics behind professional baseball. There’s a scene in particular that stood out to me that was so much more exciting than it probably would be in reality. At about the mid-way point in the movie, Bean and his assistant Pete are in a conference room making trade deals with another team in the league. In Beane’s attempt to acquire a new player, we are shown Beane making multiple calls and multiple deals with different teams to get what he wants. It’s such an awesome scene to see the smoothness and the tactics Beane uses to accomplish his goal. The excitement in their silent celebrations is conveyed perfectly by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill so that the scene works wonderfully. It’s a scene better watched than described, but that’s the thing that makes Moneyball such a standout film. It takes something that only interests a certain audience and makes it interesting for those, like me, who aren’t big fans of baseball.

$114,457,768 vs. $39,722,689.  A simple yet effective way to start off the movie. This statistic is in one of the early scenes of the movie and does a wonderful job of putting professional baseball into a certain perspective and setting the tone of the movie. I really like that they chose to start  the movie, not only with this statistic, but also with old footage from the live MLB games. This isn’t the only time that old footage is inserted into the movie, and it does a nice job of creating an almost documentary feel. Some of the camera shots also have a somewhat shaky feel to them to create the sense of a documentary. It’s in there enough to be noticed but subtle enough not to be a distraction. I believe it adds a nice feel to the movie.

The dynamic between Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill is very entertaining and makes the two a very interesting pair. The cool stoic confidence brought to Beane by Pitt contrasts well with the wavering confidence in Brand portrayed by Hill. It’s also very nice to see the transformation of Brand’s character from a regular nobody, new to the baseball scene, into a confident assistant general manager. Hill’s acting has subtle qualities to it that really sell his character and makes him believable.

One of the main messages I picked up from Moneyball was that it’s not about the money; it’s what the money stands for. I won’t spoil the movie but it does an awesome job of putting this message into perspective at the very end. There’s an exchange between Beane and Brand that resonated well with me and spurred me to rewatch the scene another time. It’s probably the most powerful scene of the entire movie, and it really solidifies the film as a great movie.

Summary:

Moneyball is a fantastic movie that gives the audience a glimpse into the inner politics and dealings of baseball. It puts into perspective the unfair advantage of the rich team who can afford to spend big money on talented players. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s dynamic in this movie creates such an interesting pair, it’s awesome to see the two act together on screen. Although baseball may be a specialized interest for some, Moneyball does a great job of taking this topic and making it interesting to a general audience. Overall, Moneyball is a great feel-good movie that’ll leave you feeling inspired.

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