Director: Bennett Miller
Writers: Steven Zaillian (screenplay), Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), and 2 more credits
Stars: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright and Jonah Hill
Motion Picture Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 133 minutes
The book and film The Perfect Storm subsequently morphed into a well used phrase for when multiple events coincide to conspire against you. Although less catchy, I can see Moneyball doing something similar. It refers to the management approach taken by the Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane from 2001. More specifically, Moneyball means taking the emotion and subjective beliefs out of decision-making, falling back on hard facts and being coldly analytical. Like The Perfect Storm, this film is adapted from an earlier book – the 2003 account by Michael Lewis titled Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
The film opens in 2001 as the A’s are forced to sell 3 of their stars to much bigger and better financed baseball teams. At that point the owner describes the A’s as a small market team. Beane as the GM complains loudly that the deck is stacked against him. He has strong feelings that baseball has become unfair and that the accepted wisdom of building teams is flawed. He is stewing on those ‘injustices’ when he meets and then hires Peter Brand, a young Yale economics graduate from the back-room team at the Cleveland Indians. Together Beane and Brand apply the Moneyball approach to re-building the A’s with startling results.
Moneyball is a remarkable film. The story resonates well beyond baseball and the lead actors Brad Pitt (Beane) and Jonah Hill (Brand) perform to perfection. The pacing and the script (by big-hitters Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin) are also superb. It is not surprising that it was nominated for a number of awards earlier this year. What is surprising is that I was transfixed by a film with baseball at its heart – a sport that I have no time for at all, but that came to life as the A’s go on their amazing journey. Billy Beane reminds me of Brian Clough and that’s also quite an accolade!