The prospect of “Moneyball” earning a best picture nom but falling short of the Oscar would be poetic, a case of life imitating art imitating life — and a very real possibility, considering the largely laudatory reviews for the film that tells the story of how a team not expected to win the big one almost did, but not quite.

Combining Bennett Miller’s direction, the screenplay adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book by Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian (with Stan Chervin credited for story) and a cast including Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, “Moneyball” overcame a rugged production process to find audience appeal well beyond baseball fanatics. All of the above individuals are bonafide Oscar contenders, with Sorkin following up his 2010 adapted screenplay win for “The Social Network,” Zaillian a previous winner for 1994’s “Schindler’s List” and Miller and Hoffman both awarded for 2005’s “Capote.” But judging by reviews, the twice-nommed Pitt seems best poised for recognition.

Like a team that shoots out to an early lead in the pennant race, “Moneyball” will have to fend off films that surge to the bigscreen late in the season, but dismissing it entirely would be decidedly Old School thinking.

Release date: Sept. 23
Read the Variety review