Posted by on September 25, 2011

Moneyball is a rare sports film that bucks the traditional conventions of sports movies. It amazingly doesn’t end with an epic home run to win the big game. And even more rare is a baseball movie that doesn’t wax nostalgic about the smell of the grass and the crack of the bat, blah, blah, blah. Moneyball is a different kind of sports movie, and broadly well done at that. At the center of the film is real life baseball G.M, Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt. Faced with a fraction of the budget that other teams have, he is determined to find a different way to assemble a winning team. Enter Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill. Brand, a young, shy Ivy League brainiac, uses statistics and complex algorithims to find under-valued players. Together they assemble an “island of misfits” that end up blending into a winning team.

The best part of this film is the performances of Pitt and Hill. Pitt’s performance is utterly believable, bringing to life a character who is both publicly confident and privately conflicted. Hill’s portrayal of Peter Brand is nothing less than stunning. He is understated and wonderful in an awkward way – he may be the least “sporty” guy to ever star in a sports movie. And ultimately, this movie is at its best when Pitt and Hill are on the screen together.

The film is not perfect. The flashback scenes of Beane as a player are a tad tedious. And the film somewhat crawls a bit too slowly towards its end. But in the end, this is a fine film, and one that could see its share of Oscar nominations. At the top of the list will be Pitt and Hill.

Final Grade: B+

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