So Beane and Brand go fishing armed with stats instead of fishing poles. They fish in shallow waters and manage to reel in players who look good on paper, bad on TV and even worse in the eyes of talent scouts. The big fish must include an undervalued contract. It’s fun to watch Brand and Beane mix and match players to the field and to their chances of beating the odds. With Brand's help he manages to get the players he needs but Billy's efforts are thwarted by the A's team manager (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who does not get it; guts the odds so another losing season is in full swing. Beane needs good odds and a good team manager because the team owner does not have deep pockets—it’s $38 million versus a $138 million.
Director Miller’s Moneyball film is a meditation on the life of Beane told in flashbacks between a young, newly minted professional ball player and a middle-age GM who holds fast to the romance of baseball. But romance does not pay the salaries of the ball players. What’s more he finds that he must keep distance from them and the actual games. The screenplay and the cast touch every base for an exceptional home run.
There’s no denying Pitt this awards season. His regular-guy Billy Beane role delivers something else: a reminder that an A-list star can make a film as well as break it.