Stay with IBTimes over the next few weeks as we analyze each Academy Award Best Picture nominee's chances of winning the Oscar. First, an underdog about an underdog:

Moneyball is among nine films up for a Best Picture Oscar on Feb. 24. Though it has received numerous nominations among the lower-profile award presentations leading up to the big event, it did not take home the Best Picture equivalent at any of them. The adaptation of Michael Lewis's nonfiction book of the same name won multiple screenwriting awards and two Best Actor prizes for Brad Pitt.

The tense drama follows Billy Beane, the general manager of the generally losing Oakland Athletics who fought his way out of a corner and radically changed the way major league baseball was played -- at least for a little while.

Frustrated with the systemic inequities of the MLB -- in which a team's chance of World Series success depends largely on its budget -- Beane solicits the help of young econ whiz Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to develop a new system of recruiting that is wholly empirical, and independent of a player's cache (making said player more affordable). Brand and Beane's system is all about getting a player on base buy whatever means necessary - essentially buying wins for the lowest possible price.

Much like the film itself, this is a formula that works rather well, except when it doesn't. Bennett Miller's (Capote) direction is smooth and controlled, and the film is extremely well-paced. Stylistic mood-cues detract -- if only momentarily -- from an overall success. Dark clouds rolling in over the field when a winning streak is threatened; a lingering shot on a tear that just won't fall; and one too many locker room rages can mostly be forgiven. The slow reveal of Beane's stubborn and heartbreaking refusal to accept a certain reality makes up for it all.

It's easy to draw a comparison between this year's underdog story and last year's The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin has a writing credit on both, and both films mirror the cultural zeitgeist of the time (though Pitt's Beane doesn't have quite as happy an ending as the fictionalized Mark Zuckerberg). The Social Network lost the trophy to The King's Speech despite being the Oscar favorite until just a couple of weeks before the Academy Awards.

Moneyball has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and made $76.5 million at the box office. It was released on DVD this week. (Read our full review here).

In Academy Award history, only three sports movies have won the Best Picture Oscar: Rocky in 1976, Chariots of Fire in 1981, and Million Dollar Baby in 2004.

The Academy has a more significant history of nominating sports films, but snubbing them when it comes time for the trophy. The Pride of the Yankees is one such example: in 1942, the beloved Lou Gherig biopic was nominated for a Best Picture and Best Actor award, but lost both those races and more - among 11 nominations, it received only one Oscar, for editing. In 1989, Field of Dreams went home empty-handed despite three nominations: It lost the Best Picture race to Driving Miss Daisy.

As of Friday, Feb. 3, The Wrap gave Moneyball 25-1 odds of winning the Best Picture Oscar, landing it at number five on the Best Picture prediction list.

What do you think? Does this underdog have a chance?

Follow IBTimes for reviews and predictions for all the Best Picture nominees. We'll publish the results of our survey the weekend of the Academy Awards.

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