Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Big Short - 5 nominations

Best Picture - Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
Actor in a Supporting Role, Christian Bale
Directing, Adam McKay
Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Film Editing, Hank Corwin

The Big Short attempts a difficult feat - how to explain the collapse of the world economy and still be entertaining - and it accomplishes that goal by all accounts.  The key characters in the film are by and large real people, particularly those who saw through the housing bubble and took advantage of the deregulation of the banking industry to ultimately great wealth.  One of the most charming parts of the script is that occasionally Ryan Gosling's character will break the fourth wall, look at the audience and say, "this really happened!"  In other words, this insanity seems like something that our screenwriter would have come up with for the purposes of decorating the movie with incredible scenarios, but no! You can't make this sh*t up!  Occasionally he also looks at the camera and says, "ok, this isn't exactly how this scene transpired, but you get it, this is poetic license."

The Big Short has a very strong chance in the Adapted Screenplay category because it more than achieved its impossible task.  It's certainly one of the 5 films I consider worthy of a Best Picture nomination, and has the ever elusive comedic elements that so rarely grace Oscar nominees.  There is no question that editing this story to be coherent, understandable, and interesting was a great challenge, particularly when most of the American public is not conversant in the technicalities of mortgages, CDOs, credit swaps, and valuation.

It's hard to single out just Christian Bale for recognition in this truly ensemble film but to be fair, his quirky, awkward, heavy-metal loving character is certainly a departure from his usual work.  I'm surprised that Steve Carell wasn't nominated in the acting category, but with a packed field of outstanding performances, getting the nomination was no easy task.

All of this is always a credit to the leader of the pack, Adam McKay who not only co-wrote the brilliant screenplay (which I'm assuming means that he really learned and understood the material) but directed, as well.  His work in The Big Short clearly speaks for itself and the nomination is well deserved.

Finally, if you were intrigued by The Big Short, I high recommend seeing the Oscar winning documentary from 2010, Inside Job, which explains this material even more thoroughly.  Inside Job does include more about the political landscape and how deregulating the banking industry contributed to the collapse, and how CEO's played a role, as well.  It's also a must see.

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