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2016

Christian Bale as Dr. Michael Burry
Steve Carell as Mark Baum
Ryan Gosling as Jared Vennett
Jeremy Strong as Vinnie Daniel
Directed and co-written by Adam McKay

Five Oscar ® nods for this film: Best Picture, Film Editing, Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), and two for Adam McKay (Director, Adapted Screenplay).

2005. Michael Burry (Bale) sees a hidden trend in the stock market dealing with mortgages, decides to exploit that trend (betting against the housing market) to make a ton of money. Shortly, another stock man jumps on board, then a couple more, and a couple more. 2008. The market crashes. These gamblers stand to make a ton of money, but the banks are going bankrupt. No money. What’s worse, is that when seen at a deeper level, the gamblers were betting against Americans. Betting that they wouldn’t make their payments. So if they made money, Americans would be losing their homes. Moral dilemma. Can money really solve all your problems?

I haven’t read the book, but I can imagine the work that went into writing this script. Ugh. Just trying to understand everything would be a nightmare! The script dumbed it down enough for me, a stock noob, to get that it was a REALLY BAD THING that happened. Even with help from people like Serena Gomez and Margot Robbie (brilliantly written cameos, btw), I followed about 50% of what was happening. Too technical. Which, I suppose, is the problem with big business/banks/insurance/government/etc. right now-the lay people have NO idea what’s really happening, so we follow what they say, do what they tell us, and go along with it. Lemmings.

Fun bits were minimal in the Big Short. It’s too serious and stressful. But here’s a couple:
• Steve Carell. He’s such a talented actor. Kind of surprised he didn’t get a nomination, honestly. His portrayal of a man torn between responsibility to his family (make money) and his moral center (everyone’s losing their homes) is brilliant.
• Brad Pitt and his two protégés (John Magaro and Finn Wittrock). He’s brilliant, they’re super new to the game. The innocence and experience playing off of one another, creating moral turmoil. This movie is very morality-based.
• Mark Baum (Steve Carell)’s gang of number crunchers. Vinnie (Strong), Danny (Rafe Spall [of Blood and Ice Cream trilogy fame]), and Porter (Hamish Linklater) are absolutely fantastic. Off the cuff, smart, amazing. And obsessed with good food. This trio was dynamite.

As good as I thought this film was, I just can’t really see it as a legit Best Picture nominee. I think there’s a deeper ploy at work here. Editing, though? Seamless. Exceptional. But up against some VERY tough competition (Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight, Star Wars, and the Revenant). Best of luck.  And what a turn for Adam McKay, formerly of Will Ferrell comedies.  It’s good to expand your resume.

Weepy Meter: 1/10 Nah. Carell’s got a couple of scenes that are gripping. And you get into it. But I don’t think I actually cried. Not really.
Man Meter: 7/10 Again, it’s awards season. If he likes film, or economics, or current events, or Brad Pitt, he’s in for a treat. Get ready to discuss. Impress the hell out of him when you know more about the market crash than he does.
Overall Rating: 7/10 Not really my type of movie, but very well done. Probably won’t watch this one again, either.

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