My wife and I recently saw the Oscar-nominated film, The Big Short. It’s the true story of some financial analysts who discovered and capitalized on the housing market’s eventual collapse. It was interesting to watch a movie about a subject that affected my family, just like it did millions of families across the country.
My wife was laid off a couple of weeks after we moved into our first place together. Fortunately, she was able and get her job back. I would have lost my job, too, if it weren’t for the position’s specialized nature. My 401k investment, however, hemorrhaged money faster than Speedy Gonzales on speed.
In the film, Michael Burry, played by Christian Bale, was the first to see it all coming. While almost everyone on Wall Street believed he was crazy, a select few also saw a housing bubble when no one else could, based on Burry’s projections.
Burry and company found themselves in a moral dilemma because while they were betting on the banks to get bit in the ass by their own greed, they didn’t know that they were also wagering on the country’s economic collapse.
Steve Carell’s Mark Baum is an idealist working within a corrupt system who ultimately profits immensely from the disaster. He didn’t want to cash in his chips at the expense of American taxpayers, but not doing so would have cost him everything. I found myself relating to the character because I would also have a hard time bringing my chips to the pay window in that situation.
I didn’t find the movie hard to watch, but it was a little boring at times, even though they dumbed down the intricacies of high-level banking with celebrity cameos that broke the 4th wall. Christian Bale was good as a socially awkward numbers analyst, but his Oscar nomination in the best supporting actor category escapes me.
Adam McKay’s Oscar nomination for Best Directing is well deserved and is the film’s strongest asset. While McKay is known for his comedic resume, here, he is able to draw out inspired performances in a movie that is primarily people standing around and talking about numbers.
The Big Short is a good film that some have called great. It misses the mark in some aspects while hitting the bullseye in others. While I don’t think I’d ever watch the movie again, ironically, I got my money’s worth with this film about financial loss.