There is one thing I dislike more than baseball, and that is watching a baseball movie. However, Moneyball is ultimately watchable because it combines that game with APPLIED MATHEMATICS!! Hooray.
There is one thing I dislike more than baseball, and that is watching a baseball movie. However, Moneyball is ultimately watchable because it combines that game with APPLIED MATHEMATICS!! Hooray. Now there is a movie I can get behind. Spare me the lightning hitting the tree that makes the bat that hits the ball… dear lord. Frankly, anytime you use applied math alongside any other subject, I am in. That is why I watched Numb3rs long after anyone else did and right to the bitter end. (That thing jump the shark like eight times!)
This is a story of a sabermetrics system applied to baseball for the first time in 2002! (which seems remarkably late to me). The movie says this is because of the old school conservative thinking that seems to permeate throughout the entire culture of baseball. Anyway, this is the true story of how a the Oakland A’s has the longest winning streak in baseball history with a team of misfits who the rest the league passed on, but whose statistics said that, on paper, they should be a great team. It took some convincing and sharing of the philosophy with the team itself, but they went on to break a 100 year old record using MATH! Who would have guessed.
Sadly Brad Pitt will not win an Oscar because he is SO GOOD in this. He disappears into the role, but it is a role that requires him to be so un-Brad Pitt. He’s just a overworked guy whose job is on the line. No makeup or moisturizer for his close-ups. None of the tricks that are considered “star making.”
But, as for a Movie Star role that wins Oscars, this isn’t what they give out Oscars for. If he had a physical ailment or perhaps a life threatening disease then maybe he would have had a shot. He has manage to strip away all the affectation that the moniker Movie Star carries and delivers a performance that is worthy of more than just mere awards, but careful study. His emotional moments are without hysterics or technical fireworks but just genuine feeling. How rare.
Now only if crew just LIT those moments. Seriously.
All of the self-doubt and angst scenes are shot in complete darkness, out of focus, or through a black and white monitor. It looked like he was really acting there, so they decided NOT to light it! I get it from a production design sense, but in terms of wanting to see big name talent doing their best work, then you are robbed a bit.
So you’re left with Jonah Hill who is supposed to look and act like he is way out of his league, which he is, so that is just brilliant casting. Every scene his subtext is “I can’t believe I am in a scene with Brad Pitt” while his character’s subtext is “I can’t believe I am working for the GM of Oakland A’s.” So that guy just had to remember his lines and feel what anyone would feel. That guy is one lucky bastard.
Of course, the Oakland A’s were the first to use this system and philosophy so they had the advantage that year of competing against teams that were paying three times Oakland’s payroll who were still chasing stars. Today everyone uses that system and now the game is even more unfair for those clubs with huge budgets. There is no equalizer like there was 10 years ago.
So remember kids, math can answer and describe so many of the things in our world that seem random. They say that we will able to predict the weather for a 100 years and that every element of a seemingly unpredictable game will be tracked and predicted – it is only a matter of data collection points and processing power to analyze it. Then baseball will really suck AND there will be no rain delays.