Yesterday In Contention‘s Kris Tapley excerpted my Moneyball rave (thanks) but at the same time said “Jeff flies off the Oscar handle on dubious players too frequently to trust this just yet.” I don’t deserve that. I admit I’ve gotten it wrong from time to time, but hardly “frequently.” Generally my instincts are on-target, and I sure as hell know formulaic garbage when I see it. And I know when a film is up to something extra-special and worthwhile.
At the end of the day I’d rather be the guy who occasionally jumps on the wrong pogo stick than one who sneers at everyone and everything. If you can’t find true love in this racket you need to find another game.
Besides, what’s so off-the-handle about calling Moneyball “a smart, true-to-life, business-of-baseball movie with a touch of the mystical and the sublime, and propelled along by a highly pleasurable lead performance by Brad Pitt…a film made great not just [by] the emotional and spiritual currents, but the subtlety of them”? And declaring that Pitt is a Best Actor contender? He fucking is that.
Variety‘s Peter Debruge got on the Moneyball wagon last night, calling it an “uncannily sharp, penetrating look at how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane helped reinvent baseball based on statistics rather than near-superstitious thinking.
“Another approach might have treated the source material as exposition for a more conventional baseball story, but Moneyball is content to draw back the curtain and find drama in the dealings. Director Bennett Miller‘s low-key style suits that strategy nicely, breaking up shop-talk scenes with artful, quiet moments in which Beane steps away from the action, nicely captured by d.p. Wally Pfister.
“Pitt gives a genuinely soul-searching performance. He reaches for junk food when nervous and questions himself in solitary, but his best scenes are those featuring his daughter Casey (Kerris Dorsey). During family moments, including those featuring his ex-wife (Robin Wright) and her new beau (an uncredited Spike Jonze), Pitt reveals that Beane’s swagger is mostly for show, and his true nature is far more sensitive than anyone who’s seen him cut a player would guess.”
Debruge is wrong when he says that Pitt “sheds any trace of movie-star vanity by allowing himself to be seen as a has-been with a bad haircut.” Pitt’s hair is okay — not everyone is obliged to wear an unevenly cut gaybar spikey mousse cut. You have to have a mullet or something equally extreme to be called a “bad haircut” guy. And Pitt’s Billy Beane is only a has-been player in Moneyball — as a general manager of the Oakland A’s he’s alive and kicking and very much in the present.
MSN’s James Rocchi has written that Pitt’s Beane-inhabiting “forgoes shallow charm in the name of deeper, stranger currents of performance and persona.”
In a just-posted Best Actor predictions piece, Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet has written that “I also saw Moneyball yesterday and think Brad Pitt‘s performance is also likely to secure a nomination at this point.” He adds that he’s not as entirely confident about this as he is about George Clooney being nominated for his performance in The Descendants.
I’m not wrong here.