I am taking my mission to see as many Oscar-nominated films as possible more seriously this year than any other year. So far I’ve seen Creed (adorable), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (what you’d expect), Mad Max: Fury Road (ew), The Martian (surprisingly good), and now The Big Short, probably my favorite to date.
While the many clips of pop culture videos paired with celebrity cameos and Zack Morris-esque talking directly to the camera make it feel like an E! True Hollywood Story at times, The Big Short is extremely well done and well put together — cast, script, all of it. Told from the perspective of several financial honchos in the early 2000s, it’s about how one man (Michael Burry) accurately predicts the mortgage crisis and consequent economic collapse of 2008, and spends a lot of time and energy trying to convince the banks of its imminence.
Michael’s paranoia catches the attention of only a select few (Jared Vannett*, your typical Deutsche Bank trader; Mark Baum* and his hedge fund team; and Charlie Geller* and Jamie Shipley*, who enlist the help of former Wall Street guru Ben Rickert*), all of whom take extraordinary measures to protect themselves from the crash while struggling internally with what it means: They are betting on the financial collapse of their country. They are betting on people losing their homes, their jobs, their money, and being aware of it before anyone else means they are going to make a whole lot of money off of it. That’s a little difficult to sit with throughout the film — on the one hand, you’re glad these people actually figured out what was going to happen and tried to take action against the big bad banks and finance guys who were responsible for it; on the other hand, you’re like, ‘Oh wait, they benefited from everyone else failing; that’s sh!tty, and America sucks no matter what you do.’ Uplifting.
Do I think The Big Short is going to win the Oscar for Best Picture? No, it’s not depressing enough. The Academy doesn’t seem to like laugher; it’s right up there with diversity. Do I think Christian Bale is going to win Best Supporting Actor? Again, no, and I’ll even go so far as to say he didn’t even deserve the nomination, Steve Carell did. (His portrayal of an extremely angry, depressed man trying to save the financial world while struggling with his brother’s suicide is the best I’ve ever seen from him, including last year’s Foxcatcher. Another “ew” movie.) I sincerely hope The Big Short wins something, though — perhaps Best Film Editing or Best Adapted Screenplay?
One can dream.
*Real names have been changed for the movie — duh.