Netflix movie of the day: Moneyball is an underdog story built on Brad Pitt being super charming

Best Netflix movies: Moneyball
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)
Movie of the day

Every day, we cut through the bottomless list of streaming options and recommend something to watch. See all our Netflix movie of the day picks, or our Prime Video movie of the day choices.

Moneyball might be the ultimate chilled weekend movie. It’s about a man doing a job who’s under-valued and under-resourced, but he comes up with a new way to do his job, and while not everyone believes in him, it works, goddammit. It’s a simple story about the satisfaction of seeing someone succeed by thinking outside the box, but with an interesting underlying theme of loyalty in sports and corporate America that lends the movie its most interesting moments – and that helps elevate it to being among the best Netflix movies. We don’t have a list of the best Netflix Dad movies, but if we did, you bet this would be high on it.

Moneyball (2011) Movie Trailer - HD - Brad Pitt - YouTube Moneyball (2011) Movie Trailer - HD - Brad Pitt - YouTube
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Brad Pitt plays Billy Bean, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, a baseball team struggling against the spending power of the bigger competition, and that has no plans to provide Bean with the budget to do any better in future years – especially once their best players leave for bigger teams.

Moneyball starts with a puzzle: if you had two truly great stars that you lost, how can you replace them? The experienced scouts want to pick up other players who are just like them, but not as good. It’s as depressing an idea to us as it is to Bean, who wants to do the same thing as before, but worse?

But Bean meets a data analyst working at another team and hires him to help create an alternative approach. They don’t need to replace a man, they need to replace a certain number of runs per game, and there are lots of ways to do that.

They put together a team of misfits – cheap players who aren't valued by the sport at large, due to strange technique or lacking in certain skills, but Bean’s plans don’t care what you can’t do. They’re looking for a specific end result from what you do well.

It’s a painful process. His coach doesn’t want to play these players the way that will make them useful. They don’t get results for a long time. His previously comfortable job is now on the line. But eventually, the boat starts to turn. The right people in the right spots pays off. And then they’re not just winning, they’re dominating.

But getting there requires an odd combination of personal loyalty and brutality. Bean has to back certain players to the hilt, but has to be cold and ruthless with others. You get the sense that he’s locked in a ruthlessness cycle: he’s treated with ruthlessness over his ability himself, including a hangover from his failed playing career; he has this impossible-to-satisfy drive to prove himself as a result; and so he turns a ruthlessness on others. 

This balance of ruthlessness and loyalty is all on show when he’s dealing with the old scouts who aren’t on board with his plans; they’ve been there for decades, they’ve helped him for decades. They’re loyal to the team to the end… but it’s also a hindrance. They’re too loyal to their old ways, to their old vision of the team. Bean is loyal to them for a time, but he’ll have to get ruthless.

And at the end of the movie, he faces the ultimate loyalty test. His success means he’s offered his dream job at the Boston Red Sox. Does he want to be loyal to Oakland? Actually, maybe that’s not the question – has he genuinely proved himself at Oakland? Almost everyone would say yes, but almost everyone would not have played the game like Bean did.

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Matt Bolton
Managing Editor, Entertainment

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Entertainment, meaning he's in charge of persuading our team of writers and reviewers to watch the latest TV shows and movies on gorgeous TVs and listen to fantastic speakers and headphones. It's a tough task, as you can imagine. Matt has over a decade of experience in tech publishing, and previously ran the TV & audio coverage for our colleagues at, and before that he edited T3 magazine. During his career, he's also contributed to places as varied as Creative Bloq, PC Gamer, PetsRadar, MacLife, and Edge. TV and movie nerdism is his speciality, and he goes to the cinema three times a week. He's always happy to explain the virtues of Dolby Vision over a drink, but he might need to use props, like he's explaining the offside rule.