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on October 15, 2011
You would think it would be quite difficult to make an interesting film about baseball statistics, but that's what the makers of Moneyball have done. It tells the story of the wonderfully-named Billy Beane who, in 2002, having been recently made the general manager of the struggling Oakland Athletics MLB franchise, who rocks the baseball world to its core by embracing a controversial new statistical method of choosing players to sign in an attempt to turn around the fortunes of his team. Directed by Bennett Miller and based on a popular book by Michael Lewis, the film stars Brad Pitt as Beane, Jonah Hill as his assistant Peter Brand, and features Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Chris Pratt and Casey Bond in supporting roles.

The music for Moneyball is by Mychael Danna, who scored Miller's previous movie Capote in 2005. In many ways Danna faced a task almost as difficult as Miller and his screenwriters: for a film without a musical hook - no musically distinct geographical location, no time period to influence the score - how do you write a score which captures the drama of the story, and remains musically interesting? The answer, in this instance, is very well indeed. Danna scored the film like a powerful drama - all surging strings, rhythmic tempos, tempered with moments of calm lyricism - which is quite engaging.

Much of the score is concerned with minimalist action, with a single instrument carrying its rhythmic core, while other parts of the orchestra express themselves around and about this central motif. The main title, "One Out Away", is a collision of shifting, interlocking string ostinati, an idea repeated later in the see-sawing pair of "Coaching" and "It's a Process", as well as the driving "More", which has an especially powerful cello motif at its core. "Spring Training" and "Time Tested Intangibles" have an almost Desplat-like woodwind dance at the center of the pieces which is very appealing, while other cues such as "Opening Day" and "Game 5" have a sense of anticipation and tension that is conveyed articulately and effectively.

Elsewhere, cues like "A Little Bit of Faith", "Big League", "Can't Miss Prospect" and "Oakland" are softer and more intimate, showcasing Robert Thies' gentle piano performances and offsetting them against brooding woodwinds and string sustains that carry the mood. Later in the score Danna introduces a subtle electronic element into the music, giving the score a little bit of a contemporary edge, most notably in cues such as "The Streak" and "Hattie". The longest cue on the album, "Old Ground", is actually one of its most understated, consisting of little more of shifting string textures and an occasional brass whole note or low-end piano chord for its 4½ minute running time.

The album concludes with two songs - Australian singer-songwriter Lenka's "The Show" performed by the cute-voiced young actress Kerris Dorsey (who plays Brad Pitt's daughter in the film), and the 11-minute epic country-rock instrumental "The Mighty Rio Grande" performed by Texas band This Will Destroy You, which first appeared on the band's eponymous debut album from 2008, and which features prominently in the film.

I'm not entirely sure what all his has to do with baseball and statistics - maybe Danna is suggesting a little echo of James Horner's rhythmic writing for `genius' by way of his scores like Bicentennial Man and A Beautiful Mind, although that might be a stretch - but the music is compelling and interesting enough that it doesn't outlast it's welcome. While fans of more strident and theme-driven works may find Danna's restrained approach a little unapproachable and even a touch boring, for those who enjoy a more classically-oriented score with a touch of contemporary minimalism, Moneyball is worth a download for its 30 minutes of score.
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VINE VOICEon March 22, 2012
The opening impression in this work is that of shifting, surging minimalism, with cascades of strings woven over and about each other like a loom made of tides. The feeling recurs many times in the score, with those waves of rhythmic, regular, shifting, never quite the same sounds building into a solid tapestry of sound...and just when you think you have it, it stops, and a musical moment of peace comes over the score...spare chords touched on the piano. The whole thing comes across as beautiful and subtle. It's joys reveal themselves immediately, but it retains sufficient mystery to keep you engaged. Fantastic and lovely.
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on March 10, 2013
I love it when a script, director, and the score of a film do their best in relation TO EACH OTHER.
All too often these days, the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing. And in many cases, it is the loudest, brightest, fastest that have to rival each other for "blow-your-head-off" kind of movies these days. So in each respect, the artist has to be over-the-top just to be heard, seen, overwhelmed by mere effect, irregardless of subject.
Moneyball was such a lucky combination where there is appropriate balance, and sensitivity to what is going on in the story. Mychael Danna did a wonderful score for for this film, period. If you enjoyed the film, the music will do a good job of reminding you of the rhythm and the varying stages of the story, while still standing on its own -quite a feat for such a low-key feature.
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on January 11, 2012
The music by itself is a wonderful listen. I only just listened to the music by itself today. But I came to review the album based on it's effectiveness in the film. The music took the film to new heights for me. I couldn't believe how it entered my ears and went straight to my heart with ease. Of course the motion picture itself helped in that greatly.

But I've seen equally moving performances in films that didn't work as well when there was a crummy soundtrack. This soundtrack was just as effective as all other elements in the film.

I don't normally look for the scores of a film to listen to myself, but this one I did because it was that good. The most recent previous soundtrack that moved me as much was for American Beauty.
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on January 1, 2014
I fell in love with "Life Of Pi" and was scouting out more of Mychael Danna's scores. I guess I was hoping this one would be better than it was. It's OK listening, but not quite for me.
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on August 22, 2013
This soundtrack I fell in love with before I saw the movie. Just watched however and love the soundtrack even more. The movie is 5 stars in my book as well.
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on March 5, 2012
This soundtrack creates a wonderful sense of underlying tension, without becoming stressful. I truly hope we hear more from Mychael Danna soon.
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on June 25, 2013
If you like baseball, you'll enjoy this. If you're not a fan of baseball, you'll probably think its slow moving and boring. I enjoyed it.
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on April 25, 2015
My daughter loved this soundtrack!
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on January 18, 2015
Love the music
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