“Adapt or die,” Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) tells one of his veteran talent scouts, who disapproves of all the crazy new ideas his boss has about how to run a professional sports team. The scene is set in 2002, but it might as well be set in 2011. In many ways, Moneyball is like The Social Network of baseball – the true story of an independent-minded pioneer who was ahead of the curve and dared to think outside the box.
Based on Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, the movie is a triumph on every level – an exhilarating entertainment set in the recent past that resonates deeply with the present day. Directed by Bennett Miller (Capote) and written by Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network), the film transcends its genre – the way the best movies always do – to become something far more trenchant and engaging than a sports picture.
Funny, ridiculously exciting and at times surprisingly moving, Moneyball is also loaded with fantastic performances (Jonah Hill is a revelation as the numbers whiz Beane hires to help him reinvent the way the game is played). The movie, which opens Sept. 23, is complex yet clear and accessible, even if you don’t know the difference between a walk and a balk. There are loads of high-profile films yet to unspool before the end of the year, including two from Steven Spielberg. But Moneyball gave me the flutter in my gut I’ve learned to recognize and trust over time: This is the movie of the year.