Moneyball (film)

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Moneyball
Moneyball Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bennett Miller
Produced by Michael De Luca
Rachael Horovitz
Brad Pitt
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian
Aaron Sorkin
Story by Stan Chervin
Based on Moneyball 
by Michael Lewis
Starring Brad Pitt
Jonah Hill
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Music by Mychael Danna
Cinematography Wally Pfister
Edited by Christopher Tellefsen
Production
  company
Scott Rudin Productions
Plan B Entertainment
Michael De Luca Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • September 23, 2011 (2011-09-23) (United States)
Running time 133 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[2]
Box office $110,206,216[3]

Moneyball is an American 2011 biographical sports drama film directed by Bennett Miller from a screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team's 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane's attempts to assemble a competitive team. In the film, Beane (Brad Pitt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), faced with the franchise's unfavorable financial situation, take a sophisticated sabermetric approach towards scouting and analyzing players, acquiring "submarine" pitcher Chad Bradford (Casey Bond) and former catcher Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt), and winning 20 consecutive games, an American League record.

Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Lewis's book in 2004.[4] The film was featured at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival[5] and was released on September 23, 2011 to a box-office success and positive reviews. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Picture.

Plot[edit]

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is upset by his team's loss to the New York Yankees in the 2001 postseason. With the impending departure of star players Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen to free agency, Beane attempts to devise a strategy for assembling a competitive team for 2002 but struggles to overcome Oakland's limited payroll. During a visit to the Cleveland Indians, Beane meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a young Yale economics graduate with radical ideas about how to assess players' value. Beane tests Brand's theory by asking whether he would have drafted him (out of high school), Beane having been a Major League player before becoming general manager. Though scouts considered Beane a phenomenal player, his career in the Major Leagues was disappointing. After some prodding, Brand admits that he would not have drafted him until the ninth round and that Beane should probably have accepted a scholarship to Stanford instead. Sensing opportunity, Beane hires Brand as the Athletics' assistant general manager.

The team's scouts are first dismissive of and then hostile towards Brand's non-traditional sabermetric approach to scouting players, most notably Grady Fuson (Ken Medlock) – who is fired by Beane after insulting their approach, and takes to the radio airwaves and doubts the team's future. Rather than relying on the scouts' experience and intuition, Brand selects players based almost exclusively on their on-base percentage (OBP). By finding players with a high OBP but with characteristics that lead scouts to dismiss them, Brand assembles a team of undervalued players with far more potential than the A's hamstrung finances would otherwise allow. Despite vehement objections from the scouts, Beane supports Brand's theory and hires the players he selected, such as unorthodox submarine pitcher Chad Bradford (Casey Bond). Following the free agent signings, Beane finds that he also faces opposition from Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the Athletics' manager. With tensions already high between them because of a contract dispute, Howe disregards Beane and Brand's strategy and plays the team in a traditional style despite their unsuitability. Beane eventually trades away the lone traditional first baseman, Carlos Peña, to force Howe to use the new recruits.

Early in the season, the Athletics fare poorly, leading critics within and outside the team to dismiss the new method as a dismal failure. Beane convinces the owner to stay the course, and eventually the team's record begins to improve. The Athletics go on to win 19 consecutive games, tying for the longest winning streak in American League history. Beane's young daughter implores him to go to the A's final game against the Kansas City Royals, where Oakland is already leading 11–0 after the third inning and appears set to advance their winning streak to a record-breaking 20. Like many baseball players, Beane is superstitious and avoids attending or sometimes even following games as they are in progress, but upon hearing how well the game is going on the radio, he decides to go. Beane arrives in the fourth inning, only to watch the team go to pieces and eventually allow the Royals to even the score at 11. Finally, the A's do win, on a walk-off home run by one of Brand's picks, Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt). Then, despite all their success in the second half of the season, the A's lose in the first round of the postseason, this time to the Minnesota Twins. Beane is disappointed, but satisfied at having demonstrated the value of his and Brand's methods.

Beane is later approached by the owner of the Boston Red Sox, who realizes that the sabermetric model is the future of baseball, and offers to hire Beane as the general manager of the Red Sox. Beane passes up the opportunity to become the general manager of the Boston Red Sox, despite an offer of a $12.5 million salary, which would have made him the highest-paid general manager in sports history. He returns to Oakland to continue running the Athletics. In 2004, two years after adopting the sabermetric model, the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918.

Cast[edit]

Cast notes

Production[edit]

Stan Chervin developed the initial drafts of the screenplay after Columbia Pictures bought rights to Lewis's book in 2004. Once Brad Pitt committed to the project in 2007, Chervin dropped out. Steve Zaillian was signed to write a second screenplay, and David Frankel was signed to direct.[10] Steven Soderbergh was subsequently signed to replace Frankel.[11] Demetri Martin was cast to portray the role of Paul DePodesta, Beane's top assistant. Former Athletics Scott Hatteberg and David Justice were slated to play themselves in the movie.[12] When asked how the film would dramatize and make entertaining a book about statistics, Soderbergh said:

I think we have a way in, making it visual and making it funny. I want it to be really funny and entertaining, and I want you to not realize how much information is being thrown at you because you're having fun. We've found a couple of ideas on how to bust the form a bit, in order for all that information to reach you in a way that's a little oblique.[13]

On June 19, 2009, days before filming was set to begin, Sony put the picture on hold.[11][14] Soderbergh's plan for the film called for elements considered non-traditional for a sports movie, such as interviews with real-life players. Soderbergh was dismissed and ultimately replaced by Bennett Miller.[15] Aaron Sorkin wrote a third version of the screenplay.[11][15]

Miller hired Ken Medlock, a former minor league baseball player and actor who plays scout Grady Fuson, as a technical advisor. Medlock invited professional scout Artie Harris to lend Medlock credibility. Harris, himself a self-styled "old-fashioned scout", subsequently auditioned for and obtained a role in the film as a scout who typically disregards sabermetrics.[16] Baseball figures, including scout Phil Pote and baseball coaches and managers George Vranau and Barry Moss, were cast in supporting roles.[17]

With Martin no longer involved, Jonah Hill was cast to play DePodesta. However, feeling the character was becoming fictional, DePodesta requested his name not be used. Hill's role was transformed into a composite character, named Peter Brand.[18]

Filming began in July 2010.[19] Filming locations included Fenway Park, the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Dodger Stadium and Blair Field,[20] while studio shooting took place at Sony's Culver City studios. During principal photography scenes featuring Kathryn Morris as Beane's second wife were shot; none made it to the final cut.[21]

Accuracy[edit]

While mostly accurate, the film alters history at points. The film suggests that Carlos Peña was Oakland's starting first baseman from Opening Day until he was traded to the Detroit Tigers in early July. In fact, while Peña did start at first base during April and May, he lost that position to Scott Hatteberg on June 1, and was playing for Oakland's AAA team when he was traded.[22][23]

Early in the film, it is suggested that right-handed pitcher Chad Bradford (Bond) was picked up by Oakland at the urging of Peter Brand (Hill). Bradford stops Beane (Pitt) in the clubhouse on Opening Day to thank him for the opportunity, a moment that clearly indicates that Bradford is just starting his stint with the A's. In fact, Bradford pitched for Oakland the previous season after being traded to the A's from the Chicago White Sox on December 7, 2000.[24] Bradford, during the 2001 season, was mainly used as a late reliever and set-up man.[25] It is also mentioned that Jeremy Giambi was chosen to be one of the three players, along with Scott Hatteberg and David Justice, to replace his brother, Jason, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen in the 2002 lineup, when in fact he was picked up in 2000 and was part of the famous "flip play" in the 2001 ALDS vs. the New York Yankees. Finally, former Oakland A's manager Art Howe (Hoffman) has spoken out publicly about his disapproval of how he was portrayed in the film.[26] The story shows Howe as a stubborn manager who, contrary to Beane's wishes, refused to use Bradford out of the bullpen or to start Hatteberg at first base. In fact, Bradford was used regularly out of the bullpen in early 2002, just as he had been in 2001, when he logged 75 innings primarily as a late reliever or set-up man for Billy Koch, the A's primary closer.[27][28] Scott Hatteberg has also stated publicly that Howe was portrayed inaccurately. He is quoted in an interview as saying, "Art Howe was a huge supporter of mine. I never got the impression from him that I was not his first choice." Later in the interview, Hatteberg mentions that "there was that turbulent relationship" between Howe and Beane. The movie also references that Hatteberg had been on the free agent market for a long time, when, in fact, he was picked up by the Athletics the day after he was released by the Red Sox.[29]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Moneyball has received significant critical acclaim. As of July 7, 2012, the aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes registered positive responses in 215 of 228 sampled reviews for a score of 94% and certified the film "Fresh." The critical consensus of the site states that "Director Bennett Miller, along with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, take a niche subject and turn it into a sharp, funny, and touching portrait worthy of baseball lore".[30] In comparison, Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gave the film an average score of 87 based on 42 reviews.[31]

The film has received a similarly positive response from audiences. A CinemaScore analysis found that people who had just seen the film gave it an average letter score of 'A'.[32]

Top ten lists[edit]

The film appeared on the following critics' top ten lists for the best films of 2011:

Critic Publication Rank
Rene Rodriguez Miami Herald 1st[33]
Lisa Kennedy Denver Post 1st[33]
Michael Phillips Chicago Tribune 2nd[33]
Satya Nagendra Padala International Business Times 2nd[34]
Ann Hornaday The Washington Post 3rd[35]
Elizabeth Weitzman New York Daily News 3rd[33]
Peter Travers Rolling Stone 4th[36]
David Fear Time Out New York 4th[33]
N/A TV Guide 6th[33]
Joe Neumaier New York Daily News 6th[33]
Marshall Fine Hollywood & Fine 6th[33]
Betsy Sharkey Los Angeles Times 7th[33]
Robbie Collin The Telegraph 8th[33]
Lisa Schwarzbaum Entertainment Weekly 8th[33]
Dave McCoy MSN Movies 8th[33]
Kim Lorgan MSN Movies 8th[33]
Richard T. Jameson MSN Movies 10th[33]
Stephen Holden The New York Times 10th[33]
Karina Longworth The Village Voice 10th[33]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
84th Academy Awards[37][38] Best Picture Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Actor Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jonah Hill Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay), Stan Chervin (Story) Nominated
Best Film Editing Christopher Tellefsen Nominated
Best Sound Mixing Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco, and Ed Novick Nominated
American Film Institute Movies of the Year Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt Shortlisted
Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards[39] Best Film – International Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Screenplay – International Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
Best Actor – International Brad Pitt Nominated
BAFTA Award[40][41] Best Actor Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Jonah Hill Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
BMI Film & TV Awards[42] Film Music Award Mychael Danna Won
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Brad Pitt Won
Best Screenplay Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated
Best Actor Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Screenplay Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Won
Casting Society of America[43] Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Big Budget Drama Feature Francine Maisler, Lauren Grey Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards[44] Best Film Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
Actor of the Year Brad Pitt (Also for The Tree of Life and Happy Feet Two) Nominated
Denver Film Critics Society[45] Best Actor Brad Pitt Won
Best Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Jonah Hill Nominated
Best Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Brad Pitt (Also for The Tree of Life) Won
Best Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Won
Online Film Critics Society[46] Best Adapted Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
People's Choice Awards[47] Favorite Drama Movie Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society[48][49] Best Picture Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill Nominated
Best Original Score Nominated
Producers Guild of America Award[50] Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, and Brad Pitt Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Brad Pitt Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Jonah Hill Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Brad Pitt Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill Nominated
Vancouver Film Critics Circle[51] Best Screenplay Steve Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin, and Stan Chervin Nominated

References[edit]

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External links[edit]