From the director responsible for intelligent comedies such as Anchorman and The Other Guys, McKay now has multiple Academy Award nominations under his belt for the writing and directing of The Big Short, his first Will Ferrell-less film.
The film is a thrilling adaptation of the Michael Lewis novel, depicting the financial crash of 2008 that began and was caused by Wall Street bankers. With competing answers as to why the crash occurred, enough dust has settled in order for pieces such as this to be written and as any economist knows, the reasons for the crash were far from simple, nor were they obvious.
The Big Short follows a group of Wall Street misfits including Christian Bale, Steve Carrell and a slightly out-of-place Ryan Gosling, who saw this beginning to happen and were able to profit significantly from the banks misjudgements. Yes, you did hear me correctly, these men who saw the crash approaching, saw the odds that the housing market would collapse were more than twenty to one and bet against the banks did profit from the crisis on an unprecedented scale.
To rectify this, the film often cuts through the glamour of money, power and testosterone and grounds it firmly in the devastating consequences the crash had on millions of people all over the world - a quality other Wall Street films have lacked.
Oscar nominee Christian Bale is captivating as a gifted recluse who first sees the flaws in the housing market, and Steve Carrell unfortunately and unfairly missed out on a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination as an honest Wall Street banker with significant personal baggage. The occasional appearance of Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez and well known economist Richard Thaler provide entertaining explanations of economic jargon such as CDOs and sub-prime mortgages (which has seemed to split critics opinions), but on the whole it works.
This year’s Oscar season is full of wrongly nominated films, over-nominated films and a diversity-deficit. The Big Short is a story that gives everyone access to what the big banks are capable of; it allows you to understand why you were unemployed or homeless or poor since the crash, and most importantly it highlights how there are no ‘good guys’ on Wall Street. Just varying sizes of sharks. In my mind this is the number one film of awards season and definitely worth a watch. Let’s hope it gains the recognition it deserves.
The Big Short is now showing at FACT - click here to book tickets.