The top nine baseball movies of all time are (in no particular order): Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, The Natural, The Pride of the Yankees, Eight Men Out, The Bad News Bears, Bang the Drum Slowly, Major League and The Sand Lot. The good news is, I now have a top 10 list.
The story is simple: Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) manages the rag tag Oakland A’s. He fields a team with a $30-something million budget. Compare that to the Yankees’ $100 million plus budget, and it’s a miracle the A’s can score a run. Beane sits in the scouting meetings— watching the old guard talk about how good-looking a player is or how much the fans like a certain pitcher—and he realizes something has to change. That’s when the stars align and he meets Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Brand is a Yale-educated economist who thinks the game of baseball should be approached differently. Teams shouldn’t be buying players, they should be buying hits and runs.
Together, Beane and Brand put together a bargain basement team that, in theory, should be able to win. They face the cynicism and opposition of both the team’s owner and the manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman), not to mention the fans. If you’re hoping for a Cinderella story, I won’t spoil the surprise.
Pitt deserves an Oscar nod for his colorful and touching performance as Beane. (Scouts shouldn’t be talking about how good-looking a player is, but I can certainly talk about how good-looking Pitt is.) The movie is engaging and interesting and touching, as Beane struggles to bond with his daughter and right some wrongs in his past. It’s a true story, so don’t expect that perfect Hollywood ending, but do expect a really satisfying movie.
It's an 8.