MONEYBALL

When I heard they were going to make a movie of Michael Lewis' book MONEYBALL, I frankly couldn't see it. The book is about statistics and how the Oakland A's used those stats to build their 2002 team on a budget most college football teams would find unworkable. Seemed like pretty dry stuff for a movie. Ah, but in the hands of Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, the mundane has been given dramatic life. Their screenplay instead of focusing on the stats, trains its lens on Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the A's GM who is forced to try to re-build his playoff team after key players have left via free agency. The A's just didn't have the budget to pay high price free agents, so Beane had to get creative. He enlisted the help of Paul DePodesta (Peter Brand in the movie) and tried to look at baseball in a whole new way. Beane is divorced from his wife and daughter, and some of his own people think he is divorced from reality in his new approach. The movie is funny, touching, clever and smart in a totally approachable way. Pitt is solid, but the real surprise here is Jonah HIll as Brand, who shows he can actually act rather than just play the fat buffoon. Bennett Miller skillfully keeps the film moving along. The pacing is quick and keeps you interested. It doesn't feel like a 2:15 movie. Expect Sorkin and Zaillian to get an Oscar nomination for the screenplay, which is almost as good as Sorkin's “The Social Network”. And with 10 films nominated for best picture, MONEYBALL could sneak into that mix like a backdoor curveball. More hits than misses, MONEYBALL is a home run! — Alan Yudman

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