"The Big Short" review

Every now and again it happens, a film receives a nomination before it is released to the general public. If you’re like me, these early nominations work as a major thumbs up — a sign that this is a can’t miss film. The Big Short is one of those films. So far, it has nominations from the Screen Actors Guild, Critics’ Choice and the Golden Globes. And notably, the film’s nominations are quite diverse with nods for the screenplay, individual performances and editing. If the race to the Oscars is your thing, then The Big Short needs to be added to your weekend to-do list. This fresh and funny film is absolutely one to watch.

Based on the book by the same name, The Big Short is the story of a group of financial misfits who catch wind of the housing collapse several years before everything comes tumbling down. Things start out innocently with Michael Burry (Christian Bale), a fund manager and top-notch numbers guy. After noticing a trend in thousands and thousands of housing bonds — the loans comprising the bonds are all primed to default around the same time — Burry decides to gamble against the big banks, and more importantly, the always stable housing market. It’s a bold move and slowly a small group of other financiers grab on to the idea. They’re going to short the housing market and it’s an idea that could earn them millions.

As a lady, one of the first noteworthy pieces to The Big Short is its cast. It is as if director Adam McKay decided to fill his film like a well-stocked fishing farm of beautiful, funny men. To name a few: Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Finn Wittrock, Hamish Linklater...hold on I need to take a breath, but  I think you get the point. Typically, well-stocked ensemble casts like this one are a gimmick, an easy way to get a lot of people into the theater.  However, for this film the performances demand these performers. The way in which they play off of one another takes the comedy to a whole other level and turns the almost non-stop dialogue into a sharp sparring match between friends, making this cast an absolute pleasure to watch.

Another can’t-miss aspect to this film is seemingly everything else that makes a film fun to watch? The film was shot and edited in an almost erratic mockumentary fashion. As the story moves along, the financial risks become bigger layers and layers of big bank BS become more obvious. Simultaneously, the aesthetics of the film match your steadily growing heart rate. The live camera edits, rapid-fire b-roll and pop-heavy soundtrack create the perfect build-up to the eventual housing collapse. As an audience member you almost breathe a sigh of relief as the financial world comes crashing down. Your heart rates slows and you realize you’re actually somewhat relieved that housing market bubble has finally burst.

It seems unfair to compare The Big Short to The Wolf of Wall Street, but the similarities are worth noting. Like Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short is a comedy taking on a harsh truth. Deceptive banking practices are not inherently a fun topic, but with the right touch, the subject can be commented on in a way that is both entertaining and educational. The Big Short accomplishes this and I am excited to see which trophies it will walk away with this awards season.

Rating: A