Eye on the Oscars: The Director - Bennett Miller

First, Bennett Miller had to find a way into “Moneyball.” Then he had to find a way out.

The movie adaptation of Michael Lewis’ 2003 bestseller about Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane had been kicked around and, eventually, shut down, when Miller pitched his take to Sony, suggesting a redemption story about a man unaware he needed saving.

“Billy Beane is just one of those characters where you peel back the layers and find it’s not about winning a baseball game,” Miller says. “It’s about the pursuit of ambition, yes, but in the pursuit, he comes to understand the thing he was pursuing wasn’t what he originally thought.”

Miller sold Brad Pitt on his vision, retaining the actor who had been attached to the project from its inception.

Making his first studio film, not to mention his first movie since the 2005 character study “Capote,” Miller painstakingly sifted through the material during prep time, looking for the “fine stitching” and detail work that would translate both Beane’s professional world and inner life to the screen.

“The biggest challenge was putting across the ideas and themes and undercurrents of the film,” Miller says. “There’s a lot of ideas in this film. It took me eight, nine months in post-production to figure out how to put them together.”

Judging from the critical and commercial response to “Moneyball,” it would seem that Miller found his way. He has appreciated the response, though his favorite reactions have centered on the ideas that he holds dear.

“The movie aspires to connect with people in a way that calls into question values and whether you’re underselling yourself or those around you,” Miller says. “When people tell me they identify with that aspect of Billy’s journey, then I feel like I did my job.”

EYE ON THE OSCARS: THE DIRECTOR
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Woody Allen | Stephen Daldry | David Fincher | Michel Hazanavicius | Terrence Malick | Bennett Miller | Alexander Payne | Jason Reitman | Martin Scorsese | Steven Spielberg
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