The Big Short was the best movie of 2015

Adam McKay’s financial meltdown satire shines because of unique style and stellar cast


Movie poster courtesy of “The Big Short”

Nick Booth, JagWire copy editor

Out of all the movies that came out last year, “The Big Short” is the one that surprised me the most.

When I walked into the theater, I thought I was going to see a serious drama. After all, this was based on a book by Michael Lewis, the same author who wrote the books that would become the basis for films like “The Blind Side” and “Moneyball.” While both those movies are fairly entertaining and at times a bit lighthearted, neither could’ve come close to preparing me for what I saw.

“The Big Short,” based on Lewis’ nonfiction book of the same name, tells the story of the 2008 housing market crash through through the eyes of unlikely witnesses: financial analysts who saw the inevitability of the crash and ultimately decided to profit off of it. To do this, they bought credit default swaps, or “shorts,” against mortgage-backed securities, which basically amounted to betting on the American economy’s failure.

In tackling this monstrosity of a topic, director Adam McKay did an absolutely stellar job. The stroke of genius that this movie has is its use of satire — it’s funny. Very funny. Here, satire is not only present to keep the audience entertained as the movie discusses rather dry topics, but also to take jabs at the bankers it indicts as being responsible for the financial crisis. This satire can be so over the top that it gets hard to remember that the movie is based on a true story.

There are actually a few points in the movie where a character will turn toward the camera and remind the audience that what they’re seeing actually happened, similar to how Frank Underwood acts in “House of Cards.” What you’re seeing on screen during “The Big Short” may appear too ridiculous to reflect reality, but it’s often very true to life — and that’s the point. I left the theater feeling outraged, knowing that the American people found themselves exploited in such an outrageous way. It’s the exaggeration that makes me think “The Big Short” is one of the best movies to come out in the past several years.

The movie’s also helped along by an incredible ensemble cast, comprising Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt. Every single one of these actors is at the top of his game here, and it shows through well. Despite the satirical and often comedic nature of the movie, they’re certainly playing serious roles. These actors, just like the movie as a whole, know when to be comedic and when to be dramatic. Sometimes, the two blend together so well that it’s hard to tell the difference.

Even if you’re not particularly interested in economics, “The Big Short” is a must-see. I tried the best I could, but I feel that even this review doesn’t do it justice. Go see it for yourself. This movie makes important political and cultural strides that may not be forgotten for a long time.

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