Movie: The Big Short
What it’s up for: Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing
I can’t remember the last time anger made me cry. It may never have happened before. Halfway through The Big Short, my anger grew so great it could only release itself through tears.
This movie tells the bleeping true story of a handful of people in the financial world who figured out that the housing market would collapse in 2008. The movie takes some creative liberties when telling the story for efficiency and effect, but the basic stories are true. Greed, stupidity, and arrogance created an unending vortex of doom for everyone.
Deadpool may be making waves for breaking the fourth wall, but guess what? The Big Short did it first (this year). One of the main goals for this adapted screenplay is to educate the general public about what happened in 2008 as well as explain some of the legal and financial mumbo jumbo people tend to just throw at us. One of the ways they accomplish this in the film is by bringing in random celebrities (like Selena Gomez and Anthony Bourdain) to explain certain terms (like CDOs and tranches). Not to mention, the narrator of the film is Ryan Gosling’s character, Jared Vennett, and he and many other characters have moments where they face the audience and explain something. Breaking the fourth wall can be difficult to execute smoothly but the screenwriters and actors pulled it off perfectly.
Beyond the fourth wall, the screenplay itself is just phenomenal. Several different narratives come together in the film to create the overarching story. Some of them connect to the others and some of them don’t. However, they all fit together without causing any confusion and build upon one another to explain the technicalities of the situations that unfold.
The movie had some of the oddest film editing choices I’ve ever seen. There were intentional continuity errors throughout the film. At least, I assume they were intentional because there were a number of them and I doubt the Academy would nominate a film for film editing if it had made so many errors. Almost every time the camera angle changed, the film would jump back a few seconds within the scene. For now, I’ll go on believing in some reasoning behind those choices. Besides that, the editing kept an effective hectic flow throughout the film, creating a sense of urgency and dread for what was coming. It easily went back and forth between the cameos and the story. It played a significant role in making sure the different narratives were distinct but part of the larger picture.
Adam McKay not only directed the film, but he also co-wrote the screenplay. He had a clear intention in his head of how he wanted this movie to go. How clear that was to everyone else is up for debate. I appreciated the quirkiness of the film. At the very least, his monumental task of directing a huge ensemble of main characters succeeded beyond doubt. All the actors did a fantastic job and played off each other perfectly. Christian Bale, ironically enough, got the supporting actor nomination. He was the only character not to interact with any of the other main characters in this ensemble film. His character, Michael Burry, a real player in this financial drama, is an anti-social former doctor with a love of heavy metal music. I didn’t really understand the music thing until I got in my car after the movie and the only music I wanted to listen to, in my anger, was hardcore screamo. Bale did a great job, but I think any one of the other actors (Steve Carell in particular) could have gotten the nomination.
The film is amazing, if only as a tool to teach people about the economy. I learned much from watching it (although Arrested Development Season 4 prepared me well for the subject matter so I knew a little bit already). There’s a warning at the end that tells us that the economy is set to create another housing bubble with the banks and financial institutions creating the same problems under different names. They do it all in the name of greed. Really though, please go watch this movie if you haven’t already. It’ll be at Redbox on March 15th.
Best Picture – Unlikely
Supporting Actor – Possible but I doubt it
Director – Possibly
Film Editing – Unlikely
Adapted Screenplay – Possible but I doubt it