Moneyball: Could It Become the Greatest Sports Movie of All Time?

Michael AkelsonCorrespondent IJune 17, 2011

Ask 100 men what the greatest sports movie of all time is, and chances are you'll hear an even split between Rocky, Hoop Dreams, Hoosiers, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Raging Bull, and even The Blind Side.

When it comes to sports movies there is no Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky, there's no movie that's just so much better than every other in it's category. 

And you could make the argument that since movies are so subjective, there never will be, but I disagree with that.

I think that when we see the greatest sports movie of all time, we'll just know.

And let me tell you, I just watched the Moneyball trailer (down and to your right), and I have a good feeling about this one. 

Set to be released in theaters this September, Moneyball is the film adaption of Michael Lewis' hit book Moneyball: The Art of Winning An Unfair Game.

It's centered around Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane and how he used sabermetrics and other methods to build a winning team on a limited budget.

I know, it doesn't sound intriguing by any means, but you know what else sounded boring? A movie about the founding of Facebook.

Yet, The Social Network was one of the best films made in years and received universal acclaim. 

Most people agree that the one thing that elevated The Social Network was the flawless screenwriting of Aaron Sorkin (who also wrote A Few Good Men.)

Guess who wrote the script for Moneyball? Aaron Sorkin baby.

And what makes this even more exciting is the fact that Sorkin was joined by Steve Zaillian (Schindler's List, Gangs of New York) in writing the screenplay.

That's a historically good combo.

However, the fact that Sorkin and Zaillian adapted the script is far from the only thing that leads me to believe we could be looking at an all-time great sports film.

The all-star cast could be the real key here.

Two-time Oscar nominee Brad Pitt portrays A's GM Billy Beane, and just by watching the trailer I can tell you that I've never seen Pitt more on his game.

Oscar winner Phillip Seymour-Hoffman plays manager Art Howe, which is especially exciting considering the guy has never once given a bad performance in his career.

And last but not least, Jonah Hill is set to play Peter Brand. Many people were skeptical of casting Hill, who is a comedian, in a film this heavy at first, but early reviews have called him the biggest standout in the entire film and a serious Oscar candidate.

Others in the cast include Forrest Gump star Robin Wright, Parks and Recreation's Chris Pratt and former journeyman shortstop Royce Clayton (as Miguel Tejada.)

The one thing we should pray for as sports fans and movie fans alike is that this isn't the next Any Given Sunday.

Any Given Sunday is the only other sports movie I could think of that had potential like this one, and it fell flat on it's face.

Which was an absolute shock when you look at the awesome cast that included Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Jim Brown (yes, that Jim Brown) and LL Cool J. It was also directed by Oscar winning filmmaker Oliver Stone.

However, I can't imagine Moneyball being the next Any Given Sunday.

Because this one is real. It's adapted from a hit book and based on a true story.

Which is why I think Moneyball has a chance to become the greatest sports movie of all time.

It could be witty, obsessive, sadistic, funny and dramatic in the same ways The Social Network was.

In fact if this movie reaches it's full potential I think it could literally sweep the Oscars. 

Best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best actor, best supporting actor and best supporting actress.

I don't mean to get ahead of myself here considering I have yet to even see the movie, but all I'm saying is that this movie could be historic. It could go down in sports movie lore.

Whether or not it reaches that potential remains to be seen, but one things for sure, it's got one hell of a start. 


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