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Moneyball (2011) Review

26 01 2012

Copyright 2011 Columbia Pictures

★ ★ ★ ★

With the announcement of the Oscars and things starting to settle down a bit after the move, it is now time for me to begin my annual ritual of watching as many of the nominated films as possible.  Since this film has already been released on DVD, it was an easy choice to get ahold of as I start my journey through what is left of the year’s best films that I haven’t yet seen.

I love it, for my blogging purposes at least, when movies are easy to summarize; this one might be the easiest film summary of any I’ve written yet.  The movie is based on the true story of Oakland Athletics General Manager and former pro player Billy Beane (Bradd Pitt), who rather than replace three key players that were traded from his roster to richer teams the standard way, employs a statistician, Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), in hopes of creating a winning team by the numbers on a budget.  Couldn’t be much easier than that, right?

Though the film is easy to summarize, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good film.  Just as I was not a fan of the vampire genre, but really enjoyed Let the Right One In, I’m not a huge fan of sports movies, but really liked this one.  Pitt gives a commanding and heartfelt performance as Beane, and the theme of the movie, to challenge old fashion values when you believe they are no longer valid or right, really hits home with the conditions plaguing our country currently.

This film was also a welcome return of director Bennett Miller who hasn’t made a feature since 2005 with the exquisitely well-done Capote.  So far in my tally, I can’t call this the best film of the year, but it is a very well made and engaging movie.  Though I am happy for Jonah Hill’s nomination, I don’t know that his performance was that endearing or that far separated from a normal Jonah Hill performance; however, Pitt’s performance could be some strong contention in the Best Actor category.

Even non sports fans like myself will find something to love about this film.  Honestly, it’s the best sports movie I’ve seen in a long time and, though not a fan of the genre per se, I have seen my fair share and completely understand the allure and magic of the game(s).  It will be interesting to see if Pitt hits Oscar glory this year; though a huge star in many respects, this comes as only his third Oscar nomination.  His previous being for the leading role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008 and first for supporting actor in 1995’s 12 Monkeys, a personal favorite of mine.

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