Moneyball


Moneyball Information

Moneyball is a 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. After a number of years in development, the film was featured at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival 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

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. Ultimately, the Athletics win 20 consecutive games, setting the American League record. Their streak is capped with a victory over the Kansas City Royals. Like many baseball players, Beane is superstitious and avoids attending or sometimes even following games as they are in progress. His young daughter implores him to go to the A's final game against the Royals, where Oakland is already leading 11"0 after the third inning and appears set to advance their winning streak to a record-breaking 21. Beane arrives in the fourth inning, only to watch the team go to pieces and eventually allow the Royals to even the score 11"11. Finally, the A's do win, on a walk-off home run by one of Brand's picks, Scott Hatteberg. 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. Miguel Tejada would go on to win the 2002 American League MVP and Barry Zito the 2002 American League Cy Young Award (although neither accomplishment is noted in the film). At the end of the film, the narrator states the reason they lost the game was because the only way to win baseball games is you must have the fundamental basics. 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.

Billy Beane's relationship with his daughter is a sub-plot throughout the movie. For example, Beane takes Casey Beane to a music store to buy a guitar where she plays him a song. Casey Beane's character is a necessary device to round out Billy Beane's harsh character. In the movie Billy Beane decides to turn down the Red Sox offer after listening to his daughter sing and mention: "let me know if you change your mind about staying in California, if not you are a really great dad."

In closing, the film notes that Beane passed 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 managing the Athletics. In 2004, two years after adopting the sabermetric model, the Boston Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918.

Accuracy

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.

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. Bradford, during the 2001 season, was mainly used as a late reliever and set-up man. 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 Olmedo Saenz in the 2002 lineup, when in fact he was picked up in 2000 and was part of the infamous "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. 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. 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 somebody 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.

Cast

  • Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics
  • Jonah Hill as Peter Brand, Beane's assistant general manager
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe, the manager of the Oakland Athletics
  • Chris Pratt as Scott Hatteberg, A's first baseman
  • Casey Bond as Chad Bradford, A's submarine relief pitcher
  • Stephen Bishop as David Justice, A's outfielder
  • Royce Clayton as Miguel Tejada, A's shortstop
  • David Hutchison as John Mabry, A's utility player
  • Nick Porrazzo as Jeremy Giambi, A's outfielder
  • Robin Wright as Sharon, Beane's ex-wife and mother of Casey
  • Kerris Dorsey as Casey Beane
  • Ken Medlock as Grady Fuson, scouting director of the Oakland Athletics
  • Nick Searcy as Matt Keough
  • Jack McGee as John Poloni, scout for the Oakland Athletics
Cast notes
  • Peter Brand is a composite character partly based on Paul DePodesta, who did not want his name used in the film.
  • Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, makes an uncredited cameo appearance as former A's owner Stephen Schott.
  • Spike Jonze has a small uncredited role as Alán, Sharon's spouse.
  • Musician Joe Satriani appears as himself, performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" on electric guitar.
  • Arliss Howard briefly appears as John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox.
  • Stand-up comedian Demetri Martin was originally intended to play Paul DePodesta. After some rewriting, the character of Peter Brand was invented to replace DePodesta, and Jonah Hill was cast.
  • Stephen Bishop, who plays David Justice, is himself a former professional baseball player. Bishop and Justice were even teammates for a time during the 90's.
  • Royce Clayton, who plays Miguel Tejada, is also a former professional baseball player.

Production

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. Steven Soderbergh was subsequently signed to replace Frankel. 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. 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.
On June 19, 2009, days before filming was set to begin, Sony put the picture on hold. Zaillian's and 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. Aaron Sorkin wrote a third version of the screenplay.

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. Baseball figures, including scout Phil Pote and baseball coaches and managers George Vranau and Barry Moss, were cast in supporting roles.

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.

Filming began in July 2010. Filming locations included Fenway Park, the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, Dodger Stadium and Blair Field, 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.

Reception

Critical reception

Moneyball has received significant critical acclaim. As of July 7, 2012, the aggregate review website Rotten Tomatoes registered positive responses in 208 of 220 sampled reviews for a score of 95% 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". 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.

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'.

Top ten lists

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

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

Accolades

List of awards and nominations
Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
84th Academy Awards Best Picture Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt
Best Actor Brad Pitt
Best Supporting Actor Jonah Hill
Best Adapted Screenplay Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Screenplay), Stan Chervin (Story)
Best Film Editing Christopher Tellefsen
Best Sound Mixing Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco, and Ed Novick
American Film Institute Movies of the Year Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt
Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards Best Film " International Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt
Best Screenplay " International Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin
Best Actor " International Brad Pitt
65th British Academy Film Awards BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role Brad Pitt
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill
BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin
BMI Film & TV Awards Film Music Award Mychael Danna
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Brad Pitt
Best Screenplay Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture
Best Actor Brad Pitt
Best Screenplay Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian
Casting Society of America Outstanding Achievement in Casting for a Big Budget Drama Feature Francine Maisler, Lauren Grey
Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards Best Film
Best Adapted Screenplay
Actor of the Year Brad Pitt
Denver Film Critics Society Best Actor Brad Pitt
Best Screenplay Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin
Story by Stan Chervin
Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture - Drama
Best Actor - Drama Brad Pitt
Best Supporting Actor Jonah Hill
Best Screenplay Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor Brad Pitt
Best Screenplay Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillian
Online Film Critics Society Best Adapted Screenplay
People's Choice Awards Favorite Drama Movie
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Picture
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill
Best Original Score
Producers Guild of America Award Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt
Satellite Awards Motion Picture
Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama Brad Pitt
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill
Adapted Screenplay Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian, Stan Chervin
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Brad Pitt
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Jonah Hill
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Best Screenplay



This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Moneyball_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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