By Cameron Carpenter
“Moneyball” isn’t a sports film. It is, however, another vehicle for Brad Pitt to win an Oscar. But most of all, it’s a fantastic piece of cinema.
First, let me clarify my feelings for Mr. Pitt. He’s one of the biggest, well-known movie stars of all time, and he has earned that reputation. Pitt’s fame has made him a daily target for the gossip-fueled rumor mills of the paparazzi. But he’s the only movie star I can watch in a film and fail to see the actor himself. He somehow slides into a character and completely becomes the person he is portraying. The character Pitt plays in “Moneyball,” Billy Beane, is no exception to Pitt’s mastery.
Tagging along for the ride is Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, who is hired by Beane to work with a budget and mathematically formulate a winning team of players for the Oakland A’s.
So, we have baseball, math and nonviolence, which shouldn’t work for today’s audience. Today emotions need to fly high, something needs to get blown up and someone needs to profess some sort of epiphany before the final credits roll. But somehow, everything comes together in “Moneyball.”
So, why does it work? Well, it helps that screenwriting veteran Aaron Sorkin, who also worked on “A Few Good Men” and “The Social Network and director Bennett Miller, who directed “Capote,” have both taken it upon themselves to rise above Hollywood hype. The do not give into the temptation to push out an emotional roller coaster using Pitt’s name to bring in the box office dough.
Instead, they use their ability to work with stars to keep “Moneyball” from being another look-at-how-pretty-I-can-be Academy Award seeker and instead make it a story-worthy-of-being-told fall film.
These are folks who respect the actors just as much as they respect their own craft, so everyone is on a level playing field, and a good film is produced. It also helps they’re smart enough to know constantly flowing tears sells a story about as well as a 3D documentary on toilet seat production.
“Moneyball” is the best feel-good, realistic film of the season so far. It won’t cause a lot of red-faced blushing with your parents, you won’t feel emotionally bogged down by the time the last frame plays, and you’ll get to tell all your friends that you saw a “snooty Oscar movie” without being bored to death.
It gets three and a half out of five stars from me, mates.
Cameron Carpenter is a film studies major at Olivet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.