Thursday, 9 February 2012

Baseball Is About Money?

Every year there is a sports film nominated. Every year there is an underdog movie that gives us a little guy to root for as they stick it to the man. Every year there is a film about smart people doing something cool with their intelligence. This year, we get all of the above. This year they all arrive in one movie. This year, we have Moneyball.

Ex-Baseball player, turned scout, turned general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), is facing a tough time with his team. With his incredibly limited budget and bigger teams taking all his best players, he needs to make a change. While trying to gain new players, he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a Yale economics graduate who has moved into the Baseball world with radical ideas about analysing players. Beane hires him and together they begin a new way of choosing players with their limited budget, much to the anger of the more traditional scouts and the Athletics coach, Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman). But Beane and Brand believe in their theory and they call it moneyball. (MOVIE TITLE!!!)

Brad got a group together to watch the other Oscar nominated  films.
This was the turnout for Transformers 3.

Brad Pitt, another of my favourite actors, is nominated for another Oscar (his fourth nomination, no wins), stars in this movie and in my opinion, was average for the majority of the movie. Now, he had moments were there were completely genuine emotions and moments were he really deserved an Oscar nomination. However, that being said, to me, he seemed very Brad Pitt-ish. More often than not he just seemed like he was doing the slight cocky attitude that is underlying in most of his characters. Obviously, I'm comparing him to the other Best Actor nominees and personally I thought he was not to the standard of George Clooney or Jean Dujardin. Jonah Hill, on the other hand, went miles away from his normal comfort zone. His normal role of the rude and fat friend that has way too much undeserved arrogance is completely thrown away. Peter Brand is smart, quiet, and shy. Up next to the big names in Baseball, he shows all his nerves and how uncomfortable he is there. He is out of his depth and he knows it. Definitely worthy of an Oscar nod and as only two of the nominees are in Best Picture nominated films, his chances with the Academy are put up. Also worthy of mention is stingy coach Art Howe, played brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Billy Beane's daughter, Casey, played by Kerris Dorsey. Dorsey was really the emotional undertone of the movie. She hits you in the heart with an absolutely wonderful singing voice and adorableness.

'I just ordered 5000 of these fancy hats. Reckon we can sell them?'

Also nominated for Best Sound Mixing, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. As far as editing goes, I don't think it tops other nominations, but surprises happen. With the sound, it was mostly nothing special. On the other hand, there are moments of sound, or lack of sound, that are breathtaking. The thwack of a bat followed by silence. The silence in between bursts of noise from Beane's radio. It can be outstanding. Camera wise, there was only one shot that I was significantly impressed with. Apart from that, there were plenty of generic long locker room shots, empty fields and ball parks. Finally, the writing, while good, does not live up to Aaron Sorkin's previous works (he won the Oscar for The Social Network last year) and I just felt that the dialogue was patchy.

Overall, it was a good film. A sport movie that doesn't involve much sport and the underdog is behind the scenes. A bit slow in points and everyone involved (with the exception of Jonah Hill) have done better work. If I was to predict its Oscar wins, I would predict the only one it's possibly going to win is  Best Supporting Actor. But then., they say the right people win Oscar's for the wrong films so perhaps it is finally Brad Pitt's year. I plan to put up a full prediction list when I have watched all the movies so stay tuned. 

Best bit? I must say, I loved hearing Beane's daughter sing but my favourite part was right in the middle of the movie when Beane and Brand have got their theory in full swing and the entire pace of the movie picks up for a few scenes.

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