The Big Short (McKay, 2015)

A lot of good and great films have been made about the 2008 financial crisis—its lead-up, its aftermath, and the tense moments in between.  Check out Chandor’s Margin Call, Ferguson’s Inside Job (we happened to have a couple of those filmmakers at UWG awhile back), Reitman’s Up in the Air.  But it took the director of Anchorman and Talladega Nights to fully capture the revolting absurdity, the flippant and craven self-interest, the moral vacancy of the people who gleefully put the global financial system at risk.  He did it by adapting a book that seems nearly un-adaptable—Michael Lewis’s The Big Short.  Lewis’s work has been adapted many times—Bennett Miller directed Moneyball in 2011 and John Lee Hancock made a version of The Blind Side in 2009.  Neither of these involved thorough explanations of credit default swaps.  The Big Short is an emotional sucker punch (and it also makes you want to throw a few punches), but it is also Cinema with a capital “C.”  McKay and his brilliant editor—Hank Corwin cut Malick’s Tree of Life and The New World—show a knockout freedom and facility with the medium.  And the cast . . . Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, and Brad Pitt are just the first ones to rattle off . . . I mean, come on . . .