Oscars 2012 Behind the Scenes: Taking a page from Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian's 'Moneyball' script

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Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Each year, the Oscars recognize A-list talent we regularly see on-screen, on the red carpet, and in tabloids. But the Academy Awards also reward those who work behind the scenes: the writers, editors, costume designers, and others who help create trophy-worthy movie magic. This Oscars season, we’ll be toasting those off-screen artists by delving into the hidden secrets that helped create the on-screen magic that we — and the Academy — fell in love with. There’s a reason why Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian, and Stan Chervin earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for their work on Moneyball: It was — pun absolutely intended — pitch-perfect. From quiet, human moments to high-stakes drama on the baseball field to statistical jargon, the Moneyball script struck a nerve on every level. For more access backstage during this Oscars season, click here for EW.com’s Oscars Behind the Scenes coverage.

When it came to penning the adaptation for Michael Lewis’ 2003 bestseller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, which chronicled the Oakland Athletics’ game-changing 2002 season at the hand of GM Billy Beane, there may have been no team better suited to bring the technical tale of sports triumph to the big screen than Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian (with story by Stan Chervin). Sorkin was fresh off an Oscar win for Best Adapted Screenplay for making another wordy true life story seem downright enthralling with The Social Network, while Zaillian spent the better part of 2011 turning the wildly popular book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo into a big-screen thriller.

And the pair’s work certainly paid off — Sorkin and Zaillian’s script was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. And, below, you can read a page from their Academy-recognized screenplay. In this pivotal scene, Billy (Brad Pitt) faces off against the aging, but still cocky David Justice (Stephen Bishop) at the batting cages before a game. Even when David questions Billy’s tactics, the level-headed GM doesn’t scald the former all-star, but rather reminds him of what remains in his dwindling years as a major league player. While this moment is a standout and a true testament to Billy Beane’s leadership and Pitt’s understated performance, the scene that follows may be just as telling. After Billy urges the veteran to act like a leader, David takes a moment to check in on an anxious Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt). It proved once more, when it came to managing this team, Billy Beane knew what he was doing.

Read Aaron Sorkin and Steve Zaillain’s dialogue of the face-off between Billy Beane and David Justice in Moneyball below:

Read more:
Oscars 2012: EW’s special coverage

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