Brad Pitt gives one of the best performances of the year in Moneyball, based on the 2002 Oakland A's baseball team that greatly exceeded expectations with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. After losing three big stars to free agency in the offseason, it looked like the A's didn't have much of a chance to do anything. Without much money to work with, manager Billy Bean (Pitt), with the help of his new assistant GM, developed a new strategy to value players based on their on-base percentages. Using this system, they were able to find players that other teams didn't want, and get them for bargain prices. They went on to win 103 games, including a record-setting 20 game win streak, but eventually lost to the Twins in the AL division series.
Moneyball is probably going to be more interesting to baseball fans, but the movie will suck anyone in thanks to great performances by Pitt and Jonah Hill, who plays Bean's assistant GM Billy Brand, and the brains behind the groundbreaking statistical analysis. Philip Seymore Hoffman is also great, but doesn't have a ton of screen time. It's Pitts movie, and he could be looking at an Oscar nod for a performance that makes you care about this team.
Pitt has been on a streak of strong performances in some great movies over the last few years, which includes Inglorious Bastards, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Oceans 11 &13, Bable, and The Tree of Life. As he's gotten older, he's also gotten a lot better at picking roles. He's stretched himself as an actor, but he also knows his limits. In Moneyball, he doesn't overdo it, and the result is an understated, down-to-earth performance that could go unnoticed by many.
Jonah Hill is also out of his comfort-zone here in a more dramatic turn, but pulls it off nicely. But the biggest suprise of the movie is Chris Pratt, who plays Scott Hatteberg, a former catcher who turns first baseman to play for the A's. Best know for his work on the brilliant NBC comedy Parks & Recreation, he gives a performance that is both believable and entertaining. Of all the players on the team, he is the one you're most rooting for to turn it around and have a great season.
Overall, this is probably a movie for baseball fans, which could actually hurt the movie due to some inaccuracies and selective memory on some of the facts. Baseball fans will debate just how closely Moneyball sticts to the facts.
In the end, Billy Bean's system changes the game of baseball, and the audiance couldn't be more happy for him. Historically accurate or not, Moneyball is a great film.
The verdict: Consume.