An absolutely incredible A-list cast see the financial crisis of 2008 is retold in a unique and fantastic way in THE BIG SHORT.
My head is spinning.
My mind is blown.
But in a very good way because I’ve finally seen THE BIG SHORT. The movie I posted about after seeing its terrific first trailer last autumn when I called it ‘the first essential movie of 2016’ delivered, big time.
Walking out of director Adam McKay‘s unique, fantastic (and now Oscar-winning for ‘Adapted Screenplay’) retelling of the housing and financial crisis of the mid to late 2000s, you feel more than a little shell-shocked at what you’ve just seen. McKay has created a singularly stunning film version of Michael Lewis’ acclaimed 2010 book ‘The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine’ that tells the very strange but very true story of how a bunch of finance guys beat the big banks at their own game during the crisis of 2008. Of course, Lewis has great pedigree because it was his 2003 book ‘Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game’ that was turned into such an amazing film by Bennett Miller.
And what a bunch of guys! With the quite amazing roster of ‘A++list’ stars – Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt – McKay irreverently dramatises how three teams of money men bet against the system and won. With stories of how McKay read Lewis’s book and then completely fell in love with the idea of filming it, even having to agree to make Anchorman 2 just so he could, together with how he got those actors in the movie – all of whom took far less than they usually get paid, just to be in it – only adds to brilliance of what you watch on screen.
The super-duper cast doesn’t stop at the four big names. Joining them are the wonderful Marisa Tomei, Tracy Letts, and Melissa Leo and the ensemble is rounded out by the tremendous Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro and Finn Wittrock. We even get cameos from the likes of Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain as they’re brought in to demystify things like CDOs, subprime mortgages and AA tranches! And it’s all narrated by Gosling’s super-smooth and very charismatic Jared Vennett, who not only energises the likes of Steve Carell’s Mark Baum and his team but is also on hand to deliver sobering statements about the state of the nation such as,
“People hate to think about bad things happening so they always underestimate their likelihood.”
The film also looks exquisite, because the director of photography is the great Barry Ackroyd and it’s snappily edited by Hank Corwin. But it’s the script by McKay and Charles Randolph that deservedly won Academy recognition as it’s razor-sharp, like the kind of material Aaron Sorkin delivers, marshalling together all the jargon and the events that transpired in an entertaining and informative way, which sees 2 hours 10 minutes zip by.
It’s a pity the movie didn’t win ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars because where it leaves you is with the terrible, sinking feeling that we’re about to see it happen all over again and so it’s an extremely timely piece of art. Perhaps we’re not quite ready to believe that – and how spot-on the film is in identifying our head-in-the-sand behaviour. Bravo!