Director: Bennett Miller
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 133 min.
The Oakland A’s had a pretty good season in 2001, but their post-season loss to the Yankees was depressing for everyone–especially the A’s general manager, Billy Beane. The A’s can’t compete with big money teams, and now they’re losing three of their best players. Billy knows their current scouting strategy isn’t working, and when he meets Peter Brand, a recent Yale graduate who believes in putting together teams based on the statistical probability of players scoring runs, he decides to give the “economics” approach to baseball a shot. To the frustration of the traditionalist scouts and coach, Billy and Peter pack their team with cheap players that none of the other teams want, but who Peter insists will get on base. As the season starts off with a series of crushing defeats, Billy begins to question his decisions and whether or not he will have a career at the end of the year.
No surprises from this underdog sports film, but the predictable plot didn’t make it any less fun to watch. The acting is great, suspense is built up well, and significant attention is given to Billy’s character development and his conflicting roles as a general manager and a father. Some of the shots were too dark and difficult to make out, and on a couple of occasions the audience needed more context as to the score and what inning they were playing to truly understand the stakes of the moment. But otherwise, it was a really enjoyable film. I would be surprised if it won the Oscar next week–there are some really impressive contenders this year–but we’ll see what happens.