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“Moneyball” nominated for Best Picture

Jan 24, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

moneyball poster

The Oscar nominations came out this morning. I’ve seen three of the Best Picture nominees. That is easily the most I’ve seen by nomination time in years. Maybe a decade. Having kids sort of kills your moviegoing mojo.

There’s a decent chance I would have posted about this anyway because, hey, it’s the offseason and why not, but I have a bona fide baseball reason to post about it too: “Moneyball” was nominated for Best Picture.  As was Brad Pitt for Best Actor and Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor. It also got nods for Best Editing, Sound Mixing and Adapted Screenplay.

Observations:

  • I liked “Moneyball” enough, though I have to say that not once while I was watching it did I think that it was Best Picture material. If they had nominations for “Neat Picture,” maybe, but whatever.
  • Brad Pitt’s performance had a lot of Oscar-bait to it, so that’s not a big surprise.
  • Jonah Hill was good too, but I’m not sure that “stare blankly, act befuddled and provide exposition” is the stuff of acting awards. He has good comic timing as a straight man. And now that he has lost a freaking lot of weight, he will likely never be offered the kinds of roles that got him his Oscar nomination, so there’s that.
  • I liked “Midnight in Paris” an awful lot. I thought “Tree of Life” was the most boring, pointless and self-absorbed beautiful movie of all time. No reason for that, but I wanted to mention it somewhere; and finally
  • I didn’t see “The Help,” but I am happy to see the Academy’s habit of nominating movies about pretty white women discovering that racism exists and sorta kinda thinking about doing something about it is still going strong.

Enjoy the comments. It’s not often I give you a forum to b.s. about movies all day, so make the most of it.

  1. karaterobot - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    “I didn’t see “The Help,” but I am happy to see the Academy’s habit of nominating movies about pretty white women discovering that racism exists and sorta kinda thinking about doing something about it is still going strong.”

    Made my morning. My wife and her girlfriends rave about this movie, you nailed how I feel about it.

    Also, Moneyball was good, not great. I thought that the producers entirely over-dramatized the 20th win moment.

    • Jeremiah Graves - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:51 AM

      I think my biggest issue is that they made it seem like the team was absolutely barren of talent, thus completely ignoring Tejada, Mulder, Hudson, Zito, Dye and a healthy Eric Chavez.

      The scene early in the movie where they’re cutting down the Giambi, Damon, and Izzy banners and replacing ‘em with the lone David Justice banner totally pissed me off. They had a plethora of home-grown talent and that is completely swept under the rug in the movie.

      Overall, I really liked it and thought it was a solid adaptation–considering the source material didn’t seem made for the big screen–and I’d definitely recommend it, but I can’t get over the whitewashing they did about the “sorry state of the Oakland Athletics.”

      • paperlions - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:21 AM

        People that were there apparently have major problems with the purposeful mis-characterization of people and relationships….in other words, to create drama, they lied. I like drama and I like documentaries, but I abhor when one is passed off as the other.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        It was swept under the rug because if they showed how talented the team still was, there’d be less dramatic flare, and less people in movie seats as a result.

        The movie must have been tough enough to film for a general audience, just altogether.

      • stex52 - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        I read the book. While it is an excellent guide to the changes in major league baseball, I only found the stuff Michael Lewis wrote about 75% believable. I think the A’s general staff ran him around a bit to keep other teams off of the trail. The movie took Lewis’s interpretation and wrote a bunch of “drama” into it. Paul Podesta, Sandy Alderson, Art Howe and the entire A’s pitching staff are grossly mischaracterized.

        For those reasons I thought the movie would be a waste of my time. Not violently against it, but not very interested.

      • stex52 - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:30 PM

        In interests of total clarity. I didn’t see the movie and drew a lot of conclusions. I read a lot of film reviews. I don’t always let those sway what I see, but I use them as markers. I also went heavily from comments on this blog.

        You guys wouldn’t lie to me, would you?

  2. sdelmonte - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I saw one film on the list, Hugo. Which was a lot of fun and quite good, but not the sort of thing I’d give an Oscar to. Most of the others are not my kind of film, though I might get around to War Horse at some point.

    No SF/fantasy or animated films on the list this year. I wondered if there might be some love for the last Harry Potter film as a “thank you” note for the billions the eight movies took in. Obviously not. And it is a strange year indeed when Pixar isn’t nominated for anything.

  3. thefalcon123 - Jan 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    “I liked “Midnight in Paris” an awful lot”

    You’re dead to me Calcaterra. What a steaming pile of crap that film was. Here are the litany of crimes committed by that movie:

    1. Having the demonic, evil girlfriend with no redeemable qualities and evoking no empathy at all.
    2. A film in which a kind, quiet man is trapped in a bad relationship learns to make better choices. Again.
    3. The whole “I live in this world now” crap at the end. What a terrible bit of Jr. High philosophy.
    4. It’s a dumb movie masquerading as something meaningful.

    Wow, I really hated that movie. Midnight in Paris is right up there where with Synecdoche New York (why Charlie! I loved you so much!) and Margot at the Wedding as the worst films I’ve ever spent money on to watch.

    • stex52 - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      Let me help you pile on. 40 years ago Woody Allen was using as themes in movies:

      1. Right wing foils of fathers-in-law.
      2. Gentle, misunderstood men trapped in mismatched relationships.
      3. How great the ’30’s and jazz were.
      4. What pompous jerks other people who have more cultural education than he are.
      5. How scary death is.
      6. New York is the most wonderful place in the entire world and the West Coast is the worst.

      In 40 years, he has made two changes. He is too old to be the lead. And substitute Paris for New York.

      It used to be enjoyable, if rather narcissistic. Now it’s just boring.

    • butchhuskey - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      I agree that Midnight in Paris is undeserving of the praise it has been receiving. I enjoyed it because of Owen Wilson’s performance, but he was the only character that was interesting and wholly developed. The others are depicted with a singular trait: Rachel McAdams gets stuck playing the shrewish wife, Michael Sheen is the pompous intellectual, and her parents are Tea-Partiers that are unwilling to accept anyone else’s point of view. I also felt like a movie where a guy travels back in time and meets famous historical figures should be more magical and perhaps have a larger scope.Sure, the movie was whimsical, but the message about not living in the past seemed like an afterthought and was poorly executed. To sum it up, I thought it was a watchable film but nowhere near an Oscar worthy movie.

  4. thefalcon123 - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    Though I’ve never seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I did read it when it came out. And lemme tell ya….whatta shitty book. An overly precious kid tries to find a lock for a key that his overly precious dead father left in a closet. Accompanying him is an adorable old man who hadn’t turned on his hearing aid in years (and then, MIRACLE, Oscar turns it on for him and he experiences sound again!) and his own grandfather who was too traumatized by Dresden to talk ever again.

    Uggg. I all for pretentious bullshit when it’s done correctly, but this book was a “literary” novel for soccer moms.

    • El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      Your book review reads exactly like the movie reviews I’ve read. I will avoid this flick like the plague.

    • merkleboner - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Sounds a lot like Hugo, which was entertaining but full of boring nostalgia and unlikeable kids.

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  5. Joe - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    I agree. I never thought Moneyball was going to be nominated for an Oscar when I watched it. I do think that the “Best Adapted Screenplay” nomination is warranted, because when I was reading the book I never considered this would be a movie. (And that sort of forgives the failure to mention the Big Three and the other stars on the team – they had to adapt it this way in order to build tension – as well as the pivitol Ricky Rincon scene.)

    I also didn’t think Brad Pitt smelled like Oscar, certainly not in the sense that Gary Oldman did in “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” (though I don’t think he’ll win it, either), but I liked Jonah Hill’s performance and think his nomination is defensible.

    But any movie that basically wastes having Philip Seymour Hoffman like Moneyball did, probably wasn’t the best picture of the year.

    • aleskel - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      it’s some Aaron Sorkin nonsense – I felt the same way last year about The Social Network. Fine movie, but … Best Picture? What’s the big deal about it? I think the Academy just gets fuzzy over Sorkin because he’s all brainy and political and he writes all smarty-like and stuff.

      Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for Sorkin to write a character who DOESN’T sound like he went to freakin’ Harvard.

      • El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Dude, facebook movie was pretty much a masterpiece. It was hilarious, fairly accurate to the real story, never boring…I mean what more could you want out of it? The main character went to Harvard so he’s kinda gotta sound like he did right? What other nominations has Sorkin received from the Academy before Facebook movie?

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 24, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        I guess you’ve never seen Sports Night or The American President.

        Sorkin’s my favorite writer/director to ever come out of Hollywood.

      • frug - Jan 24, 2012 at 5:34 PM

        To be fair, all the Facebook founders did go to Harvard, and Beane was offered a full ride to Stanford…

  6. drunkenhooliganism - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    If I ever had a secret that I could not tell, you could pull out my fingernails one at a time, you could go all Marathon Man on me, you could slice me up in horrible places and I would not say a word. But if you just walked toward the dvd player with The Artist, I’d give up every piece of information I had ever known

  7. Jonny 5 - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    Ohhh, the Oscars… A bunch of very handsomely paid actors patting themselves on the back for doing their jobs. How very modest of them.

  8. butchhuskey - Jan 24, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    The movies I saw this year were Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, The Descendants, Harry Potter, and Bridesmaids. Of those movies I’d say my favorite was the Descendants (I liked Harry Potter as well), with Bridesmaids being the most overrated of the group (seriously, did it get great reviews because women did gross things in it? I just didn’t find it all that funny). As for Moneyball, I thought it was a solid, but not great film. Brad Pitt gave a very charismatic performance, and the use of real game footage as well as the voice of Tim MCcarver added to the film’s realism. Even the scenes with his daughter, which could have been overly cutesy, were nicely handled and effective. That said, it wasn’t really a great adaptation of the book by Michael Lewis. The idea of sabermetrics is oversimplified to the point where on-base percentage was the only stat mentioned and the reasons old statistics were flawed was never pointed out. I realize you can’t make a mainstream film entirely based around number crunching, but a few extra lines of dialogue could have solved this problem. Also very troubling was the depiction of Art Howe, which seemed like odd character defamation and too one-note a role for an actor of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s caliber. Anyway, once I accepted Moneyball the book as the story of an idea and Moneyball the film as a character study of Billy Beane, I appreciated the film more.

    • sandpiperair - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Didn’t you just say (yesterday?) that you like juvenile humor? I figured you would have liked Bridesmaids. Maybe you only think it’s funny when men do it.

      • butchhuskey - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:19 PM

        Well sometimes I do, yes. But for some reason Bridesmaids didn’t have me rolling in the aisles

  9. cur68 - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    None of these movies had spaceships, spies, and/or hand to hand combat, car chases, shootouts or kung fu. There was a total absence of cake, women jumping out of the cake, and creative use of the “shower scene” with the women &/or cake. Its a world gone mad where this lot gets a nod as “A Best Picture”. The best pictures have the stuff I mentioned. All else are for the weak minded and old people.

    Moneyball wasn’t bad but it was no Major League. Mr. Jolie’s best part in that movie involved when he was actually watching baseball as opposed to moping around with his silicone enhanced lips hanging out.

    • butchhuskey - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:21 PM

      “There was a total absence of cake, women jumping out of the cake, and creative use of the “shower scene” with the women &/or cake.”

      You have very selective taste in movies there, cur68

      • cur68 - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        I’m a connoisseur. I accept no substitutes, especially pie. *spits*

    • yankeesfanlen - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Car chases and cake! Yum!

    • Jonny 5 - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      True DAT! Well exchange the cake for pie and it’s perfect actually.

  10. El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    The best pictures nominees suck this year compared to most years. Moneyball has a decent shot b/c of the lack of competition if you ask me. I also think you are underrating Hill’s performance in Moneyball, Craig. His role is essential to the flick and his timing and lines are delivered perfectly throughout. Credit the writing, but credit the former fatty too, will ya?

    • Old Gator - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Well, since only Craig was as masochistic as I was and sat through Tree of Life I figger I ought to pitch in my two dollars’ worth and agree with him. Visually beautiful, like an air-headed, high-maintenance Hollywood bimbo ought to be. If you could find a way to condense all the boredom in that movie into a pill, you would make Seconal obsolescent. I would, however, give a best supporting predator Oscar to the therapsid who stepped on the sick little hadrosaur a couple of times and then decided not to eat it after all. I might want to give a special effects honorable mention to whomever edited Car Sagan’s mystified face out of the Pillars of Creation shots from the inexplicably stupid and achingly pretentious “big bang” sequence. I don’t believe in capital punishment but, for his utterly gratuitous performance in that film that would have embarrassed EdWood Jr., I would definitely sentence Sean Penn to life without parole going out on stage in front of elementary school parents’ night audiences encased in a paper maché simulacrum of a fine chinaware théière where he would be forced to sing “I’m a Little Teapot” over and over again until he is pelted with overripe tomatoes and rotten eggs.

      My thanks, however, to the murdered toad for adding a touch of genuine pathos to that pretentious mess, and also to Jessica Chastain just for being there and providing something worth watching besides dinosaurs.

      • El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:14 PM

        Ok, I think I understand, but I’m gonna have to watch this movie to be sure…not sure if that was your intention! I’ve heard such mixed things about “Tree of Life” so haven’t been dying to watch.

      • meyerwolf - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        If you do decide to watch it, Bravo (don’t), be sure to have the remote nearby. I still have nightmares, sitting through that half-hour big-bang/dinosaur/… snoozefest in the cinema, unable to change the channel or at the very least fast forward through that part. Hair was pulled, I tell you.

      • Old Gator - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:34 PM

        direwolf: thank you from doing your best to keep my friend from wasting two hours of his life. Bravo, give it few more months and the dinosaur sequences, all thirty seconds of them, will probably show up on YouTube.

        I find it hilarious that the Academy felt obligated to parade its faux sophistication by nominating this clunker, a film that actually set records for viewer walkouts and for arguments with theater managers to demand money back. So many, in fact, that theaters in places with a genuinely sophisticated filmgoing public – Cambridge, MA; San Francisco, Washington DC – put up signs in their box office windows spotting their customers fifteen minutes to bail on the film if they wanted their money back. A lot of that nominating vote, I suspect, was because the voters wouldn’t be thought of as true intellectuals if they admitted they had no clue what Malick was doing.

        I took my 19-year-old son, who is an avid film fan with sub-specialties in classic Japanese and European films, to see this figuring that it was, after all, the great Terence “Days of Heaven” Malick and that a lot of the bad buzz was because pedestrian filmgoers just didn’t rise to the occasion. Nope. it was a flat out bad film. Twenty minutes into it I had dozed off. My son nudged me and asked if I was actually enjoying it. I said no, but it’s Malick so let’s see if it goes someplace. It did: it turned off the road and parked itself outside a tire yard.

      • El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        Don’t forget that “Atlas Shrugged” also came out this year. That one may win the Razzie for “worst film of the year” outright. I’d rather watch that new reality show called “The Republican Debates” than that garbage pile.

  11. antlerclaws - Jan 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    The guy that plays Ron Washington didn’t get nominated for saying, “It’s incredibly hard”? Travesty!

  12. butchhuskey - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    There’s one more thing about Moneyball the movie I wanted to say and I think has been overlooked by nearly everyone. I think Kenny Medlock, the guy who played Grady Fuson was excellent and maybe even better than Jonah Hill (I only knew the actor’s name because I looked it up). I thought he was very natural at playing an “old school” baseball guy, and his speech about discounting what scouts have done for 150 years was one of the more authentic parts of the movie. To be honest, I had never heard of the actor before so I wasn’t sure if they had cast an actual scout with no acting experience in the role. Even though the character gets fired about halfway or so through the film, I thought he made a more convincing villain than PSH’s art howe. Well done, Kenny Medlock.

    • El Bravo - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

      Agreed. If there was a ‘Best Secondary Supporting Actor’, he would be the man for sure.

  13. pkswally024 - Jan 24, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Money Ball was good not great. I had lofty hopes for that movie.

  14. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 24, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    Good not great seems to be the consensus about the movie, and I tend to agree. It was well done in terms of being adapted from a book I would have thought in no way could be made into a movie. The way Billy Beane’s playing career worked into the film was especially well done. I think it should win Best Adapted Screenplay.

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