ByGriffin Fuller, writer at

Another entry, an even briefer introduction. I would like to thank all of you who read my last post on my fourth best movie of 2015. The post reached over 300 reads in only a couple of days, which is amazing. If you are new to this thread of articles, go back and read the previous three to be caught up. I hope that you have enjoyed these articles and will continue to read. Without further hesitation, it is time for number three.

#3: The Big Short

The synopsis of this movie will be drastically shorter than Creed and The Hateful Eight. The Big Short follows three sets of men who recognize that the United States’ housing/mortgage banking policies are founded on these worthless loans leading to a bubble. They all invest in that bubble popping on insurances, which the banks would have to pay out at the rates of 20-1 (if I recall correctly). Following the events from 2005 to 2008, the movie depicts how each set of men adjust/react to the rate of defaulted loans rising while the grade remains strong. In addition to that storyline, the movie calls upon celebrity cameos to help explain complicated financial terms.

To begin, the cast of this movie is fantastic from top to bottom. Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carrol, and Ryan Gosling are the headliners for a complete cast that all bring some of their best performances. Specifically, Bale’s and Carrol’s characters are the foundation of the emotion for this movie. However, they accomplish this in entirely different ways. Both roles are based off of actual men who invested in this bubble to explode before the American public. Bale’s character (Dr. Michael Burry) has Asperger’s syndrome, which complicates the ability to socialize with people via direct interaction or nonverbal communication. Bale is able to connect with the audience without drowning himself in his character’s disability. The character is compelling to watch as he does not comprehend why his prediction is not occurring the way it is supposed to go. Bale pulls off a masterful performance where the audience understands the plight that Burry is experiencing while engaging in the quirky personality of the flip-flop wearing, heavy metal drumming doctor. Since the cast is considered an ensemble, Bale was nominated for Best Supporting Actor rather than Best Actor. While I am not completely familiar with the rules of the Academy, I would argue that Steve Carrol deserves the nomination as much as Bale does. Carrol’s character, Mark Baum (who is based on the real life Steve Eisman), is the emotional center of the movie. Carrol demonstrates the most emotion out of everyone in the movie as well as transitioning the most between emotions. Baum begins the movie as an angry man who is convinced that the financial world is full of frauds and criminals. By the end of the movie, the truth is revealed that the bubble was caused by frauds which causes Baum to break down in sadness rather than more anger. Personally, Carrol was never a favorite of mine in the comedic world. Since his transition to more serious roles, I have enjoyed him thoroughly. Carrol’s performance in this movie is touching and remarkable. It must have been difficult to decide between the two in order to determine who deserved the nomination more (if only one per movie is allowed in one category).

In addition to Carrol and Bale, the rest of the cast brings their best acting chops to this movie. Ryan Gosling portrays a character that resembles Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wallstreet. The narrator of the movie, Gosling breaks the fourth wall multiple times to speak in simpler terms to the audience. Gosling shines as the representation of greed in American capitalism, which is a heavy theme in the movie. This greed is what breaks the anger from Carrol’s character. While Gosling represents the greed, Brad Pitt’s character represents the grim realization of survival in harsh climates. Pitt’s character left the financial world on his own will after viewing the dastardly dealings and was only pulled back in from an old neighbor. Pitt’s character seems to be the only one who realizes throughout the movie what the consequences are if the predictions are correct. The performance is the one that brings to the ominous tone in at the beginning of the last act of the movie. Pitt delivers this revelation to the young investors he is aiding with such sternness that the entire audience understands the actual weight of the recent history. Even if the audience is not from the United States, they understand the severity of the situation that Pitt emphasizes. Rafe Spall, Hamish Linklater, and Jeremy Strong are strong in their roles as Baum’s team. They stand out in their roles, which speaks volumes to the heavy star power that they are acting with. The acting in this movie is simply amazing.

Adam McKay treats the material that he is handling very well throughout the movie. While some may say there is too much comedy in this movie, I believe McKay balances it well with trying to keep the audience engaged in a story that is truly about financial numbers. Also, the comedy that is in the movie is simply disbelief from the characters about how corrupted the situation truly is. The comedy in the movie is not mocking the financial crisis; it is personalizing it to the point where the audience understands the workings of the finances. In addition to that, the comedy aspects in the beginning help bring the weight of the situation to a head when Pitt says his line about people dying over this. Without the comedy, this line would not have carried the same weight as the audience would not have been lost in the entertainment from the movie. The cameos do a wonderful job to explain the complex financial workings of these loans and debt. As a business school student, it would be nice for my professors to break down some of these terms into examples like the movie presents. McKay understands that the audience will become bored if they do not understand the financial talk that is occurring throughout the movie. He deserves his Academy nomination for being able to tell this story without losing the audience in the financial talk that would put even the best business student asleep.

This movie called me in based on the amazing cast that is supported. If I knew that this movie was based off of a Michael Lewis book, then my excitement would have doubled. I love Moneyball the book (and the movie) and other writings by Lewis. After seeing this movie, I want to go read the book. The movie does an excellent job at taking something that occurred recently and portraying it with a fair stance. It does not glorify these men for investing, but it does not condemn them. The audience is allowed to decide for themselves about how they should feel about these men who made money based off of the unfortunate. The Big Short does point out fatal flaws in the United States financial system that not many people would like to believe. It serves as a warning that the audience does not realize until it is directly told in the end of the movie. Upon a second viewing, I am sure that the overarching themes of greed and incompetence will be more predominated throughout the entire movie rather than the second half. The more one watches this movie, the more that the numbers and the implications will become a marker for how to recognize when the financial world will be going back down. This movie is more than simply a financial statement; it is an entertaining throughout. I loved this movie from start to finish. The two movies that beat this one out simply entertained me more. This could be from the lack of daunting message in those movies but that is not a knock against this movie.

The Big Short was one of the last movie I saw of 2015 and it forced itself into the third slot of my list. I hope you all enjoyed this article and come back for the last two movies of my list. If you are enjoying these posts, please follow this profile on Moviepilot or follow me on Twitter @talkmoviestome. Also, leave comments on these articles for some interaction. Share these with fellow movie lovers as well, even if you disagree completely with me. Thank you again for reading.


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