The Big Short
All the different storylines where so much fun to watch because they had wit, they had heart and they had something to say. I had such a good time tonight and enjoyed every second of this film. So far, my favorite film of the Oscar season (but unfortunately a complete outsider).
The Good
  • Amazingly composed fun ride through the financial world of pre-2008
  • Christian Bale delivers an absolutely amazing performance as Dr.Mike Burry
  • A manual to make a serious dry topic as fun as possible
The Bad
  • Whoops - there seems to be nothing here
4.6Overall Score
I moved to Boston on September 12, 2008 – my first job out of college started three days later on September, 15 2008 – the day when one of the biggest investment firms in the world Lehman Brothers went belly up (which is now a case study at Harvard Business School). I still remember that day very clearly as I was driving to my orientation week in Philadelphia listening to the radio talking about economic Armageddon. And in fact, that is what happened everywhere across the country – people lost their jobs, families lost their homes and the US meltdown reached across the entire globe. After being surrounded by this topic, I decided to read a book about all the shit that went down – I had heard good stuff about this Michael Lewis guy, so I decided that The Big Short will be the book to read about the financial crisis. It was a tough read but a great learning (yet scary) experience.
Forward to the present, it is 2015 – the US economy has (sort of) recovered again. There are numerous new bubbles on the horizon and well it’s kind of all going back to business usual. That’s when Adam McKay decided that it was a good idea to make another movie about the Subprime crisis (which almost feels like old news). When I first saw this trailer, I was super excited – just look at this cast:
  • Ryan Gosling as banker schmuck: BRILLIANT
  • Christian Bale as the socially awkward yet brilliant Dr. Mike Burry: OSCAR-OSCAR-OSCAR
  • Steve Carrell in yet another serious role: MY CAB, MY CAB, MY CAB
  • Brad Pitt as a paranoid, gone-vegan ex-Banker: DON’T CALL THIS NUMBER AGAIN

the-big-short-wide-crop_1400.0Seriously, who could not be excited? Another thing that I saw when watching the trailer was the fact that this was actually a comedy; naturally my first thought was: “A comedy really, about the meltdown of the US economy?” And then I sat into my movie seat, and just went on this fun ride with all these great characters – and it was a total blast. Adam McKay took Michael Lewis’ awesome story of a few characters who saw it coming while the whole banking world was to greedy to give a sh**. Now, I don’t really want to make a statement about the importance of this film because by now, we have heard and learned about the wrongdoings of the big banks and their non-punishment. This film was all about fun and execution. It took on the task of explaining the complex world of:

Even after reading the book and going to business school, I still struggled with understanding this topic properly which is where my love for Sal Khan came to fruition – a man who was able to explain the propped up housing market which led to the Subprime crisis – highly recommendable as well:

Alright, back on topic – remembering how the book went on to be more “dramatic” and (rightfully) finger pointing, the movie takes a completely different route. It decides to take the stupidity and the greed out for a fun ride; all the bad decisions and corruption leading up to what we will remember as the biggest economic crisis of our time is and was purely fueled by a systemic greed in the banking system, so why not make fun of it to the best of our abilities. And you can tell that all actors on screen are just having a blast – and really my hats off to the McKay and Randolph for writing such a brilliant screenplay with so many amazing and fun dialogues: Steve Carrell and his crew of rogue investors do exchange some amazing lines in- and outside the boardroom, Brad Pitt in his vegan government-paranoia himself and his two rogue Investment Bankers are so much fun to watch and listen but Ryan Gosling is definitely the most fun characters with the best lines in this film. And Christian Bale as Dr. Mike Burry yet again proves how much of a versatile actor he is – the real Dr. Mike Burry is described in the book as a genius, super awkward loner who sees things somewhat differently and many things are “tied” to him losing an eye when he was young. The film incorporates all these elements perfectly and Bale puts the character on screen absolutely spot-on.

But well, let’s not forget the mentioned complex topics of the book (MBS, CDO, CDW) – I mean who understands this crap anyways? That’s right, nobody does. But still, you don’t want to confuse your audience and/or make them feel stupid. So what would be the best way to make this complex topics more tangible? How about putting Margot Robbie in a bathtub sipping Champagne and explaining Mortgage-Backed-Securities and then telling the audience to fuck off – sounds like a great idea, right? Well, it was – and these little documentary style explanations went on through the entire film with stars like Anthony Bourdain explaining bundling with fish stew, Selena Gomez explaining organic CDOs with mass bets – simply amazing ideas to make the dry and complex topic of financial derivatives more tangible.

And as I said – the movie was being carried by the absolute amazing cast. Gosling provided as many LOLs as I haven’t had in a long time in the theater, Bale was just so awesomely awkward and still brilliant – completely mesmerizing and the whole crew around Steve Carrell were just super entertaining as well. If you are not Quentin Tarantino, it is quite the task to be able to craft parallel storylines in such an effective way (granted they hardly had any intersections) – but throughout the film it jumped between these four characters and their (at that time) stupid vision of what might happen to the financial markets come 2007/08.

And all along the movie, the different story lines where so much fun to watch because they had wit, they had heart and they had something to say. I had such a good time tonight and enjoyed every second of this film. So far, my favorite film of the Oscar season (but unfortunately a complete outsider).

I absolutely loved this movie and this is why I love cinema.

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