February 1st: Moneyball


Release Date: 2011
Director: Benett Miller
Why I picked this: Aaron Sorkin’s script and Oscar noms

Most sports films depict the experiences of the players or the fans, but this one in particular focuses on the behind-the-scenes aspects. Focusing on the real-life story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, this movie shows how Beane attempted to change the way professional baseball players are picked and how they play the game. Beane adapts a more numerical and statistical method of looking at players rather than on superficial elements, in hopes of forming a championship team with a small budget. Instantly, the audience knows what the conflict is and the uphill battle that Beane must faee. While I myself am not a sports or baseball fan, I was intrigued at their method of looking at players, sometimes pausing and rewinding to recall what the characters were saying. Usually when I don’t understand something in a movie, I try to understand it in my own terms and move on, while here, I was intent on learning. Billy Beane is played by Brad Pitt, in what I think is a very nuanced performance. His performance is a great one to watch, and he makes Beane a sympathetic character. Jonah Hill is exceptional in his role, playing Beane’s nervous but intelligent assistant general manager, but I’m unsure if it was really Oscar-nominated worthy. Unlike other great supporting roles, Hill never owns the screen. However, Pitt and Hill have very good on-screen chemistry. One of my favorite scenes had the two of them talking to managers of other teams via phone with the intent of trading players. They have a clear strategy, and it is satisfying to see them successful. It takes place in one room and is little more than people talking on the phone, yet the actors’ energy and chemistry make it enjoyable. I especially liked how the movie linked the issues the characters were facing with Billy Beane’s personal past, making him to be a more sympathetic and understandable character. Billy Beane is a character who only wants to get what he needs, a philosophy he tries to teach the players to apply on the field. However, the movie doesn’t always follow this philosophy, sometimes focusing on Beane’s family, which I didn’t find very interesting. The movie’s pace was also a little inconsistant for my taste, as I found myself a little bored in the middle of the movie.

This movie is great for its performances from Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, sharp script, and interesting subject matter.


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