Oscars nominations: An honorable 5 (Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Christian Bale, Best Achievement in Directing for Adam McKay, Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Film Editing)
Synopsis: Adam McKay’s The Big Short is a financial drama, reminiscent of movies like The Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street. This time it is about the financial scandal of the century (although I am aware we are very early on in the century), the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007. This story is an ensemble piece with many big stars (Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling to name a few) playing different parts in the financial sector that manufactured this disaster. The film displays the corruption behind the world of high finance while explaining a crisis that has largely been obfuscated by jargon in the media. To put it simply, banks gave mortgages to people who couldn’t afford to pay them, sold those debts to the public through bonds, and made themselves large amounts of money selling these dodgy debts. When everyone realized that the mortgages were very risky, the bond market collapsed and brought down a few banks until the government stepped in to shore up the system.
How many Oscars is it going to win: My prediction is that The Big Short won’t win any awards, despite it being one of the top three films when it comes to the Best Picture category. The one award I really think it deserves to win is for the adapted screenplay, as it does make some complicated economics very understandable, but the same can be said about science and its major rival for this award The Martian. Both scripts are equally zingy, but I think The Martian wins out because of its stronger female characters. Christian Bale is not even the best supporting actor in the movie, so he won’t win the Oscar. Adam Mckay has to contend with showier, more technically impressive films such as The Revenant or Mad Max: Fury Road. Besides many of his direction choices were quite annoying, such as Mckay’s use of what looks like stock footage when cutting between scenes and his patronizing explanatory sequences.
Will you enjoy this contender: The Big Short is funny and informative. While it is not great drama, there are a few flashy performances built to amuse. However, Steve Carell’s fund manager does offer us some moments of emotional truth among the flashy editing and ratatat dialogue. Partnered with the more affecting film 99 Homes, The Big Short expertly describes the sub-prime mortgage crisis in a way much more entertainingly and clearly than we have a right to expect.