Inside the Best Picture nominees: A deep dive into 'Moneyball'

brad-pitt-moneyball

Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

There are a whopping nine films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards. And between your work, family, and constant USA marathons of Law & Order: SVU (when will those ever stop being addictive?!), you simply do not have time to catch all nine in the theaters or on DVD. But never fear, dear PopWatchers — that’s why we’re here! Each day leading up to the Academy Awards Feb. 26, we’ll be providing you with a deep dive into one of the nine Best Picture nominees. Fear showing up to your Oscars party unprepared to discuss the year’s most notable films? We’ve got you covered. (Just beware: SPOILERS AHEAD!) And if you’ve already seen all nine films, even better — our inside look at each nominee will serve as a handy guide to remind you of the best and worst moments from every Best Picture candidate this year. In this installment we’ll break down all the statistics of Moneyball. (And be sure click here for more deep dives into this year’s Best Picture nominees!)

Name: Moneyball

Release date: September 23, 2011

DVD release date: Available now

Run time: 2 hours, 13 minutes

Box Office: $75.6 million ($20.6 million opening weekend)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94 percent

Moneyball’s movie math: Bull Durham x The Bad News Bears  + A Beautiful Mind - Schizophrenia = Moneyball

Tweetable description of Moneyball: Baseball, math, and a distinguished Brad Pitt playing a darling dad. This movie really does have something for everyone.

What EW’s Owen Gleiberman said: “It’s a baseball drama about something novel and rich: Desire not just to win but to change the game — to take it back from the accountants and rediscover the joy of players who could still triumph by surprising you……Brad Pitt [is] in classic, game-on movie-star mode…[a] funny, exhilarating, tossed-off strut of a performance… A-

Number of Oscar nominations: Six nods, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian), Film Editing (Christopher Tellefsen), and Sound Mixing (Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco, and Ed Novick).

Moneyball‘s Oscar history: Brad Pitt is a three-time Academy Award nominee, previously in the Best Actor category for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) and Best Supporting Actor for Twelve Monkeys (1995); his co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman is a three-time nominee and a winner of the Best Actor Oscar for 2005′s Capote; Director Bennett Miller earned a Best Director nomination for Capote; Writer Steve Zaillian is a four-time Oscar nominee (including Awakenings and Gangs of New York) and a previous Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay for 1993′s Schindler’s List); his co-writer Aaron Sorkin also won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, for 2010′s The Social Network; Producer Michael De Luca was a previous Best Picture nominee when he produced The Social Network; Cinematographer Wally Pfister is a four-time nominee and winner for Best Cinematography for 2010′s Inception; Sound Mixing nominee David Giammarco was a previous nominee in that category for 2007′s 3:10 to Yuma, while Ed Novick is a four-time nominee with a win in the Sound Mixing category for Inception.

What Moneyball has won thus far: The Oscars, like baseball, is often a numbers game and things unfortunately aren’t boding well for Moneyball‘s winning odds. While it has racked up a few awards this season, it simply can’t compete with awards show sweepers like The Artist and The Help. However, here’s what Moneyball has put on its mantle: AFI Movie of the Year and Critics Choice Award for Best Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian). Their screenplay also walked away the winner at Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, New York Film Critics Circle Awards, San Diego Film Critics Society Award, and Toronto Film Critics Association Awards. Brad Pitt has added some wins to his record, including a National Society of Film Critics award for Best Actor, New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actor, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival for Desert Palm Achievement Award.

Why Moneyball should win: Moneyball is the rare film that accomplishes the almost impossible feat of being emotional without being sappy or cloying (you hear that, The Artist?) and technical without being cold. (Sorry, The Social Network.) You don’t need to be an avid follower of baseball statistics to understand or care about what was going on on screen. Moneyball‘s message was a universal language: Play the game fair. Not to mention the fact the film features a living Hollywood legend at the top of his game; surprising and impressive turns from an eclectic group of supporting actors (Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt); and a top-notch script courtesy of some heavy-hitting screenwriters. It’s a total cinematic home run.

Why Moneyball should not win: In a year where so many movies broke the mold of standard filmmaking (The Tree of Life, Hugo), tackled weightier topics (The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), and tapped into the current sentimental nerve (The Artist), Moneyball feels awfully disconnected from the rest of the race. And even though it’s a great math movie and a great baseball movie, it’s not the greatest math or baseball movie in cinema history.

Vegas odds: 40: 1 for Best Picture, 10:1 for Best Actor, and 9:2 for Best Adapted Screenplay, according to Las Vegas Sports Betting.

EW’s Dave Karger’s odds: Not great. As of  Feb. 16, Dave Karger ranked Moneyball in the No. 6 slot for the Best Picture race, while Brad Pitt falls to third place behind Best Actor frontrunners George Clooney and Jean Dujardin. Sorkin and Zaillian’s screenplay is also batting third in the Adapted Screenplay line-up, behind The Descendants and Hugo.

Moment most worthy of an Oscar: Brad Pitt’s locker room flip-out (“Is losing fun?”) is killer, but it’s that breathlessly thrilling montage of the Oakland Athletic’s record-breaking win streak that elevates the film to rousing.

Best line from Moneyball: “How could you not be romantic about baseball?” Billy Beane’s statement really says it all about anyone who truly loves this beautiful game to its core, doesn’t it?

Worst line from Monyeball: Billy Beane may have forever changed how teams approach the game, but during a scouting meeting, one of his colleagues proved baseball can still be a close-minded boy’s club. When discussing whether or not to recruit a certain player, one of Beane’s co-workers nixes his abilities on the field because of his less-than-attractive girlfriend. His misguided argument? “[Having an] ugly girlfriend means no confidence.”

MVP (Most Valuable Prop): It’s not the crack of bat or a hanging curve ball, it’s Peter Brand’s (Hill) decidedly dated computer. (Hey, it was the early 2000s!) Crunching the numbers and gathering those statistics on that gigantic, boxy computer helped Billy Beane create the A’s dream team. Who says new is best?

moneyball

Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Best fashion moment: During an otherwise unsuccessful meeting with the Cleveland Indians, Pitt’s Beane looks sharp and almost distractingly handsome in an all-black suit. (Even with the gold chain, Brad Pitt looks impeccable.) See right:

Worst fashion moment: Scads! Moneyball is a great baseball movie, but not a fashion-f0rward movie by any stretch. Sure, the athletes look good in their uniforms, but the guys off the field should have been thrown out for wearing button-up polos, khakis, windbreakers, Hawaiian shirts, and visors.

Best music moment: Beane was blown away to hear his young daughter Casey (an impressive Kerris Dorsey) pick up an acoustic guitar and play her own rendition of Lenka’s “The Show,” and so were we. But there was no way to not get choked up — or understand why he made the difficult decision he did about whether or not to go to Boston –  after watching the proud papa listening to her sing it again on a CD she made for him. Talk about hitting all the right notes for a perfect ending to a movie. Watch it here:

The Friends connection: Strange coincidence or Brangelina conspiracy theory? The Internet discovered this little hidden gem (of course it did): A line of Brad Pitt’s Moneyball dialogue sounded awfully reminiscent of a line his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston delivered on Friends. Check out the clip that riled up Team Jennifer below:

Five Oscar Party talking points:

1) Brad Pitt is long overdue for an Oscar, but this just isn’t his year. It’s hard to believe that this only marks Pitt’s third Academy Award nomination, but it’s even harder to imagine that the bona fide movie star might go 0-3 come Sunday. The trophy will more than likely instead wind up in the hands of The Artist‘s Jean Dujardin or Pitt’s longtime pal, The Descendants‘ George Clooney.

2) Six of the nine films nominated for Best Picture are adapted from books, Moneyball being one of them. However, Moneyball is the only work of non-fiction.

3) Wonder how Casey Bond made his performance as A’s pitcher Chad Bradford look so convincing on the mound? Bond is a former professional baseball player who once played for the San Francisco Giants.

4) The majority of characters in Moneyball are based off real-life people, but the only person to play themselves in the film is guitarist Joe Satriani, who plays a rousing rendition of the National Anthem in a scene.

5) Moneyball almost wasn’t made because of a significant change to its line-up. Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh was originally slated to direct the film, but was let go from the project after he and the studio had creative differences about what to do with the script just days before the movie was planned to begin shooting. Additionally, Jonah Hill stepped into his role in the movie after comedian Demetri Martin dropped out.

Read more:
Oscars 2012: EW’s special coverage
Inside the Best Picture Nominees

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