Guide to Baseball Films: The 2010s
- 42. (2013) Dir. Brian Helgeland. Jackie Robinson becomes the major league's first African-American player, and as a rookie leads the Dodgers to the pennant.
Extremely straightforward biopic, the cinematic equivalent of a belt-high changeup. But it's nice-looking and has some appealing performances (Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey).
- Chasing 3000. (2010) Dir. Gregory J. Lanesey. Father tells kids of a madcap cross-country trip he took with his brother in 1972, to see Roberto Clemente's 3000th hit.
Quirky, low-key indie film with excellent performances, particularly by Trevor Morgan and Rory Culkin as the brothers. There is no magic in the film, but it's not quite realistic either; the atmosphere is heightened and distorted, indeed in much the way that stories about one's adolescence become in memory.
- Fences. (2016) Dir. Denzel Washington. Troy Maxson rules his Pittsburgh house and lot, fueled by the frustrations of his professional baseball career.
Splendidly acted adaptation of the Broadway revival of August Wilson's play, starring Washington and Academy Award winner Viola Davis.
- How Do You Know. (2010) Dir. James L. Brooks. Softball star at the end of her career fails to connect with cavalier baseball star in the middle of his, settles instead for lovable schnook.
The baseball in this picture is mere backdrop, and not very believably presented (in midsummer, ballplayers appear to have endless free time to socialize). But the title phrase is spoken by Owen Wilson in a major-league bullpen, prompting a nicely-delivered laugh line by Domenick Lombardozzi.
- Moneyball. (2011) Dir. Bennett Miller. Forced to rebuild on a slim budget, General Manager Billy Beane turns the A's into a powerhouse with the help of computers.
Basically a team-of-misfits movie, but an unsentimental one. An unusual picture for any genre, finding a dramatic arc in Michael Lewis's bestseller for the business-savvy. None of the action really rings true, but it's internally consistent, and consistently interesting.
- Trouble with the Curve. (2012) Dir. Robert Lorenz. Baseball scout at the end of his career has failed to connect with powerhouse lawyer daughter in the middle of hers, necessitating schmaltzy roadtrip.
Weak baseball vehicle for Clint Eastwood; in some ways a rejoinder to Moneyball but not a very telling one.