The story of Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane’s successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.
Now that it’s almost Oscar season, with the nominations being released in just a few days now, this movie is getting a lot of talk, from Best Movie and Best Actor to Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. Brad Pitt is a favorite among many for best actor, and Jonah Hill is easily going to earn a nomination for his supporting role. And then you have the award winning Aaron Sorkin adapting the screenplay, looking for his second straight Oscar for the subject.
Read the rest of my review after the break.
The movie starts with the Division championship of 2001, with the New York Yankees playing against the Oakland Athletics, our story’s team. The Yankees, whose payroll is over 300% larger than the A’s, win the game, and the following off-season, the A’s lose their 3 big name players, crippling their team for next year. Billy Beane [Pitt] is the general manager of the team, and despite his best efforts, is unable to get more money for his team’s payroll. On a visit to the Cleveland Indian’s clubhouse, Beane is close to making a trade before a random assistant whispers something to the Indian’s manager that makes him change his mind. Beane decides to find out who this strange assistant is. His name is Peter Brand [Hill], and this is his first job ever. Beane gets to know a little more about Brand’s ideas and philosophy, and then hires him to help rebuild the A’s.
With the use of computer generated projections and mathematical formulas, Brand suggests some irregular choices to fill in for the loss of the team’s big three last season, and Beane decides to go with it. There are some problems along the way, along with conflicting views between Beane and the team’s Manager Art Howe [Philip Seymour Hoffman]. The team really struggles out of the gate, and the media as well as people in the clubhouse are showing their disbelief. After weeks of Howe not playing Beane’s players, Beane trades several starting players to force his new players to play, and low and behold, they start winning. After a few key trade deadline deals, the team starts to play at a record breaking pace as they make their push for the playoffs and the MLB Championship.
Pitt really shines in his performance, one that visits many different highs and lows, and Pitt shows his ability to hit all of them beautifully. Hill was well cast for his part, a sort of nervous and quirky guy that he does really well. I would give an award to the casting agency for this movie for that before I would give him a best supporting actor award over Christopher Plummer for his role in Beginners, but Hill does do a really good job. There aren’t many more roles that are major or worth noting.
Every other part of the movie follows along with the changing moods well. Aaron Sorkin and director Bennet Miller [Capote] really combined to put a well formed biography on the screen. I didn’t really know the story of the A’s from that season, but I feel that if I did the movie still would have been dramatic and suspenseful. The sound mixing and soundtrack helped to tie a bow on the mood of the film.
The ending does a cool job of explaining itself with itself, with a good lesson learned and a good message sent. Really enjoyable.
3.5/4 – Brad Pitt does an incredible job portraying Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane in a moving story of redemption and change.