The Big Short
The Big Short is the rare film that had some genuinely funny laugh out loud moments, but ironically, almost all of it came from outside the main story, and therein laid the comic genius of Adam McKay (and co-screenwriter Charles Randolph). McKay crafted a fact-based, recent historical retelling of the 2007/08 financial crisis and made it engaging, informative, darkly comic and entertaining. That is no mean feat.
Just like fellow Best Picture/Director nominee Spotlight, this film has the uphill task of leading the audience to an already known conclusion and not losing them along the way. Whereas Spotlight managed to deftly keep the tension high and the emotional stakes honest, The Big Short held onto its audience by its humor, its amazingly factual portrayal of an unbelievably broken and corrupt system and its style.
The whole movie felt like a Freakonomics book, and having not read Michael Lewis' book of the same name, I cannot be sure if the film was faithful to the tone of the source material or did McKay and Randolph made it all up. But nonetheless, the style worked! With multiple breaking of the fourth wall and absolutely hilarious asides that kept the audience entertained as we moved towards the eventuality
Christian Bale plays against type (but actually, does this guy even have a type?) and gets nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant portrayal of a socially-awkward hedge fund manager. With most of his scenes having only himself in it, Bale managed to bring across both his brilliance and his controlled annoyance at those less so than him.
Steve Carrell continues his Oscar-baiting trending of dramatic roles after last season's Foxcatcher. Although neither roles were really outstanding, this one at least managed to let his comedic talents shine which should be really what he needs to aim for. Instead of overly dramatic roles like in Foxcatcher, Carrell would do better if he sought out dramatic roles that allowed him to be funny.
And Ryan Gosling continues his trend of hijacking an ensemble and stealing the show while Brad Pitt eyes the Oscar as producer rather than supporting actor.
The noughties soundtrack was a fun mix to an otherwise serious and, honestly, depressing story.
At the time of the writing of this review, the pundits have The Big Short as the front runner for winning the Best Picture. It is topical. It is inventive/innovative. It is widely relatable. It is funny. It is smart. But it is also too smart. Too filled with jargon. And not all that "fun".