The Nominations:

  • Best Picture
  • Actor in a Leading Role: Brad Pitt
  • Actor in a Supporting Role: Jonah Hill
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaorn Sorkin and Steven Zailian; Story by Stan Chervin
  • Best Film Editing: Christopher Tellefsen
  • Best Sound Mixing: Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick

The Black-and-White:

A review by LadyOscar23

I’ve been wanting to see “Moneyball” for a while, but haven’t actually achieved it until now.  This means that I’ve read a variety of reviews for it over the preceding months.  One of the things I recall having been said is that this is a good movie, but not a great “sports movie.”

Maybe that’s true, but I have no way to rate the film not as a baseball movie.  I suppose some of the themes in it are fairly universal—the frustration of trying to change a system, the desire to see an underdog win, the tradeoffs between work and family, loyalty and profit.  However, I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a kid listening to every Cardinals game on the radio, so I find these themes much more interesting as baseball themes than if the movie were about, say, fast-food franchising.

That brings us to the fact that, no, it’s not a great sports movie.  For me the A’s have always been in the Other League, so I went into the film not knowing much about was going on with them in 2002.  (I had of course heard of all the players they lost that year, but I hadn’t known that’s where they came from before finding homes with richer clubs!)  I would have liked to have heard much more detail about how the season went from its disastrous beginning with the GM and manager at odds to its nearly-triumphant finale.  How did the newly-made first baseman work out?  What situations did they use the submarine relief pitcher in?  Besides having Billy Beane yell at the players in the clubhouse and making the soda free, what changes were made?  A video montage about “the streak” really wasn’t quite enough.

Speaking of “the streak,”—an event good for team morale and fan interest, but no more important in the standings than if they’d won ten games, lost one, then won ten more—I felt that the manager as portrayed in the film was sometimes missing the essential point that the most important thing for the team is not getting on base, or even winning.  It’s putting fans in seats spending money.  Winning is one good way to do that, but there have certainly been winning ballclubs who’ve played to empty stadiums, especially in the recent years of expansion.  So while a team may not be able to afford the big-name players, the desire to do so cannot simply be dismissed as sentiment or inherently bad business sense.  I also do not know where the idea that the season is a failure if you lose the last game comes from (though the firing practices of some clubs certainly imply that there are front office people who believe it).  As a fan, if my team made it to the playoffs or the World Series, I got enjoyment from the stretch run, the sheer fact of seeing them in the post-season, and every victory they managed there.  Sure, I’m a lot happier this year (did you see Game 6?!) than in 2004 (bite me, Red Sox!) but I certainly didn’t give up on a team that got so far just because they didn’t win in the end.

Although their use is central to Beane’s strategy in the film, very little is said about the new statistics being employed.  Perhaps this is because they are now so pervasive in baseball that it’s hard to see them as revolutionary.  I recently read an article commenting that in fact it’s nearly impossible to get an edge this way anymore, since every team is using the stats for all they’re worth.  Still, though, I would have liked to see a little more discussion of the specifics.

Anyway, I digress.  In terms of the non-baseball content of the movie, I thought Brad Pitt did fine at making Beane seem intense but likable, and I enjoyed the interaction between him and Jonah Hill as his stats-savvy assistant.  The human interest plotlines of the players and Beane himself having to deal with the harsh facts of baseball, where players can be sent down to the minors or traded with no notice were also decently executed, although I felt the scenes with the daughter were kind of unnecessarily cute.  All-in-all, it’s a decent movie (which is more than I generally expect these days) and I would certainly recommend it to baseball fans.  If it wins something I don’t think it should be for the actors—maybe the screenplay.

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