In high school, I was good at math but that changed when I declared my major in journalism/communication arts. I never really understood finances though and that has come back to haunt me when I was watching The Big Short.
I may not be good at math or have any discernable proclivity for numbers, finances and financial terminology, but I dare to say that I know movies and I know words and by God, The Big Short is one hell of a movie courtesy of an outstanding ensemble including Academy Award winner Christian Bale, Academy Award nominees Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt and a phenomenal screenplay courtesy of Charles Randolph and director Adam McKay!
The Big Short follows a collection of outsiders in a world where the powers that be have deceived their followers into thinking that all is well and the institution they lean on and depend on is rock solid, when in truth there is nothing solid about it; instead of a block of concrete, the institution is an enormous bubble and these outsiders, they see the wind rustling, they see the end coming and they move to preserve themselves when the apocalypse comes and leaves the world in ruin.
The apocalypse in question is the collapse of the American housing economy and rustling wind, the downfall of the mortgage bonds purchased by the hard-working American people, while the fatcat bankers raked in the dough. Alan Greenspan said one thing while Dr. Michael Berry, Mark Baum, Jared Vennett, Ben Rickert and others saw the truth, that the backbone of the American economy would buckle under the banks’ flimsy loans and in 2008 when the economy did collapse, the banks went under while these outsiders came out on top because they took advantage of the banks’ stupidity, arrogance, and penchant for greed because they bet against the economy and won.
The Big Short is The Wolf of Wall Street 2.0 and I showered praise upon The Wolf of Wall Street years ago. Adam McKay has ushered in the most resplendent, outlandish, wild and completely off-the-rails motion picture of the year and I couldn’t take my eyes of this movie.
Whether it was a surprise cameo featuring Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, Richard Thaler or Margot Robbie taking a bubble bath, the brief montage sequences, the breaking the fourth wall, visually I devoured this movie the way a hungry and homeless man would savor and devour a perfectly cooked ribeye at a five-star restaurant. The writing was sharp, witty, nourishing and even though I couldn’t entirely comprehend the financial jargon, the overarching narrative I could understand and I applaud Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for their efforts to bring this to the big screen, in a way that educates the masses, criticizes, condemns and indicts the guilty while portraying these outsiders as mortal as possible; they’re not sanctified or demonized, they are simply human.
The Big Short shares so many incredible qualities with another fantastic film I’ve seen this year: Spotlight. Like Spotlight, The Big Short is technically well-rounded, carried by excellent writing, directing and features a collection of spectacular performances in an amazing ensemble.
Christian Bale delivers another outstanding performance as the brilliant, eccentric and reclusive, heavy-metal loving Dr. Berry, Steve Carell was amazing as the socially pessimistic Mark Baum-I felt that he was more comfortable to watch in this film than he was in Foxcatcher-Ryan Gosling was awesome as Jared Vennett, Brad Pitt was solid as Ben Rickett, the supporting cast including Marisa Tomei, Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Strong, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan all excellent.
I simply loved Barry Ackroyd’s cinematography, the use of close-up, the motions, I couldn’t help but be entranced by the camerawork of The Big Short and the editing of Hank Corwin was top of the line; be it a montage or jump to a cameo or shot-reverse shot, the editing of this movie was perhaps the best I’ve seen so far this year.
I can’t say much about the score by Nicholas Britell, the costumes by Susan Matheson, Clayton Hartley’s production design, Elliot Glick’s art direction, Linda Lee Sutton’s set direction, but I can say that everything looked fresh and modern simply had the right aesthetic tone for the time period this movie took place. Again, like Spotlight, The Big Short is a technically grounded, yet outstanding technical achievement.
The Big Short is a movie to root for, especially as it vies for Oscar gold in a few months. I can definitely see this movie landing between 6-10 nominations in a variety of categories but I can definitely say that The Big Short is a legitimate Best Picture nominee that needs to be seen in theaters ASAP!