I enjoy Steven Soderbergh’s big movies, like the Oceans franchise, but I’m so happy that he’s back in the trenches making stuff that lets him play a little. Yeah, the heist movies were playing too, but now he’s dicking around with film in a more serious fashion, and I love it.

Moneyball, his adaptation of the book about Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane and the rise of a new form of stat-heavy baseball managing, may have Brad Pitt on board to play Beane, but won’t be a typical big movie. The subject is skewed to baseball and business geeks, for one. Furthermore, Soderbergh plans to go as real as he can, and tells MTV that he’s going to cast real players and use actual MLB footage when possible.

But then there’s Bill James, the stats guy who dreamed up the system that Beane used to build the cheapest winning team in baseball. James will be animated. “We have this sort of oracle character that appears throughout and
declaims various issues and he’s essentially supposed to be Bill
Soderberg tells MTV. “He’s your host in a way…. The background will
be real but the person who is supposed to be him will be animated.”

Which, yeah, sounds a lot like the bigscreen version of that damn paperclip from Microsoft Office that we all turn off as soon as the install is finished. But the point is to preserve James’ voice and influence. “It needs a gimmick,” Soderberg explains. “It needs something to make
it not Masterpiece Theatre. His writer voice is so big, I thought to
literalize it is going to actually harm it. I need to make his voice
funny and when he comes on you’re happy to see it.”