Movie: Margin Call
What it’s up for: Original screenplay

I’m pretty sure I’d never even heard of this movie prior to the nomination announcements.  The basic story line is a day in the life of an investment firm in New York. But it’s not just any day – it’s the day the 2008 recession begins. A young risk assessor (Zachary Quinto) discovers that, due to some (vague) issues with the firm’s buying/selling plans, they’re about to head into a situation that will lead to them owing more money than the whole company is worth. What follows is a suspenseful journey through the night where the characters have to determine what is the right thing to do and who they need to do the right thing for.

This movie was actually quite good. I was intrigued for most of the time. If I knew more about how trading and investment firms work, I probably would’ve been a little bit more interested. However, what it does do pretty well is humanize the crash of 2008. Us “normal” people look at Wall Street as if the people who work there are robots who are only out for themselves. While there are characters like that in this movie, there are also characters who speak to the reality of what (presumably) it’s like to work on Wall Street. Although they address the fact that it was their mistakes that screwed things up in the first place, the characters go through a range of personal situations that show a bigger picture than what we tend to believe about these people we don’t know or understand.

The movie was rated R solely for language which was, quite frankly ridiculous and unoriginal, but here, bleeped out, is my favorite quote of the movie (from one of the firm members talking to another):

“People wanna live like this in their cars and big…houses they can’t even pay for, then you’re necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is cause we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off and then the whole world gets really…fair really…quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have know idea where it came from. Well, thats more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow…”

I like that quote because it’s a good commentary on the fact that it was mortgages and loans for things people can’t afford that (more or less) caused this recession. It was all very real and very good. This was entirely due to the writing (although the cast was excellent as well). It was a fantastic screenplay. The shots were very creative and had a linear style (as in there was a lot of lines and forced perspective used in the shots to make scenes more detailed…I really love linear styles of anything). There’s absolutely no way it can win in this category (against Midnight in Paris and The Artist) but it deserved the nomination.

No way. But it’s still a great screenplay.