Less a film about baseball as it the triumph of objectivity (Sabermetrics) over subjectivity (the wisdom and intuitions of grizzled career baseball men), Bennett Miller’s Money Ball deftly essentializes Michael Lewis’ non-fiction bestseller into a brisk comedy of institutional change. The film tells the story of the sea change in Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) thinking about player evaluation, largely at the behest of his newly-hired assistant GM Peter Brand (a pseudonym for the real-life assistant GM during this period Paul DePodesta). The film doesn’t demand a lot of particular knowledge of baseball, though (despite the importance of both baseball and statistics to the story, the film doesn’t even concern itself with trying to explain slugging percentage). The obvious conflict is big-market team (exemplified here in the Yankees) vs. small-market team (the A’s), but the film neatly implies (a little too neatly, perhaps) that the psychological mechanism that drives Beane in breaking with the dominant paradigm is his own on-field failure as a, from the perspective of the old way of thinking, “can’t miss” five-tool prospect. In the process of changing the way the A’s evaluate talent, Beane alienates both his scouting staff and his manager, and once he gets the right players in place, is careful to keep his distance from the players, and in fact doesn’t sit in the stands during games—superstitiously avoiding direct contact with the game and instead monitoring the team’s play through text messages, snippets of TV and radio broadcasts, and of course statistics. For all the film’s wit, it builds Pitt’s performance primarily out of figurative detail—posture, gesture, facial expression, etc.—than dialogue, resulting in one of the more satifying all-around performances of Pitt’s career.