Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that Moneyball was nominated for six Oscars. The film received four nominations in roughly the same categories that it received Golden Globe nominations:
- Best Picture
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Actor: Brad Pitt
- Best Supporting Actor: Jonah Hill
Unfortunately, Moneyball didn’t win at the Globes, though that could be chalked up to the Hollywood Foreign Press not caring much about an American film about an American sport like baseball, instead favoring The Descendants, Hugo, and The Artist. The latter two films were set in Europe or were produced outside of Hollywood. That’s not to say that those movies aren’t deserving, far from it. All three of those films are more deserving of Best Picture than Moneyball.
The other two nominations were technical: Editing and Sound Mixing. While not as showy as Hugo and The Artist, I think Moneyball has a shot at both of those awards. Real footage of the 2002 season was seamlessly integrated into the film, and the sounds of the game are better and more realistic than in any other sports film I’ve seen/heard.
- Billy Tells Art: Play Bradford – Ambivalent. Leaving the scene in would’ve shed light on Mike Magnante’s issues, which weren’t covered in great depth in the movie. On the other hand, Beane comes off as mean, calculating, and unsympathetic. That’s probably not what they were going for, even if there’s some truth to it.
- Tara and Billy Dinner – Was this the only deleted scene featuring Kathryn Morris? I knew going into Opening Day that her scenes were left on the cutting room floor. As much as I like Morris as an actress, it’s better that the character of Tara Beane is not in in the film. Some obsessives on the big screen do better with a good wife as emotional support. The Moneyball Beane is not one of them.
- Peter Offered GM Job – Should’ve left it in. Another great bit of repartee between the two leads. Plus it’s closer to the actual truth.
Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game – Part epilogue, part Cliffs Notes version of Moneyball the book. More for the casual/non-A’s fan. A’s fans know this inside and out. Still good to have quotes from Michael Lewis, Aaron Sorkin, Beane. Plus props to the unseen Paul DePodesta. Includes a jarring, unwelcome interview with Alex Rodriguez, who arrogantly touts his “character”.
Drafting The Team – Emphasizes that many actual/former ballplayers were cast in player roles. Nice interviews with Stephen Bishop (David Justice) and Ken Medlock (Grady Fuson).
Moneyball – Playing the Game – My favorite featurette in the package. Covers set design, costumes, and cinematography. I really loved Wally Pfister’s (Christopher Nolan’s go-to cinematographer) explanation of how and why he shot the movie the way it was shot with lots of shadow and on film instead of digital video. When the A’s finally leave the Coliseum for a new ballpark somewhere, Moneyball will always be a reminder of how good the Coliseum could be.
Adapting Moneyball – A little back-and-forth among the team of screenwriters and the producer Rachael Horovitz. Watch it and read Roger Ebert’s recent blog post, which has a little inside baseball about how the script(s) came together.
The notable feature missing from the package is a commentary track, whether from the director or actors. The featurettes are a good substitute, but I really wanted a commentary to get a lot of the small details. That’s okay, maybe there’ll be a collector’s edition down the road. If the A’s hadn’t won a World Series in my lifetime, I might feel a little more bitter about how the 2002 season ended. But think about it for a second. One of our favorite teams of all time was documented in a bestselling, critically acclaimed book and a lovingly crafted movie adaptation. We’ll have that forever. How many teams get to have that? Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch was a great memoir of his lifelong love of the Arsenal soccer club. The British film adaptation was not bad, though it strayed far from the book. The American adaptation was so terrible that the miracle of the Red Sox finally winning couldn’t salvage it. No, I don’t expect Moneyball to win the Best Picture Oscar. Is it the best baseball movie of all time? Most definitely. And that’s good enough for me.
P.S. – As of yesterday, Moneyball has made $106 million in domestic and foreign box office revenue. Someday the A’s payroll might actually approach that number.