Plenty of baseball movies feature an underdog team whose pluck and determination enable them to come from behind and claim victory -- but what about when the deciding factors are money and computers? Moneyball -- based on the real-life 2002 baseball season -- is a drama that's as much about the structure of professional baseball as it is about playing the game.
Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), general manager for the Oakland A's, is tired. The A's just lost the division playoffs to the Yankees (who, not coincidentally, have a budget more tha four times greater than that of the A's). Beane also knows that his three best players are leaving the A's for teams that can offer them a lot more money. And team manager Art Howe (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has made it no secret that he'll be looking for another manager job.
Beane finds help from an unlikely source: Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a low-level employee for a rival team. Brand believes a team can be put together not with traditional player scouting, but with mathematical formulas based on player stats. He also believes players that are undervalued for a number of reasons -- age, personal scandals, even looking funny -- can bring value for a fraction of the cost of star players. Beane hires Brand and makes him the assistant general manager, and they put together their "team of misfit toys." But they face skepticism across the board -- from the scouts who say baseball can't be reduced to just math, to the numerous fans blasting the A's on radio call-in shows -- and the losses in the early season don't help.