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Hollywood Contenders – “The Big Short” continues to impress on the precursor circuit

Steve Carell The Big Short
About a month or so ago, The Big Short first started making the pre release rounds, building up buzz and goodwill. Then, critics were able to begin chiming in, speaking about how fond they were of Adam McKay’s film. Now, in the past few days, the precursors have supported the movie as well, in particular the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. In the case of the latter, the flick now has guild support. All this is to say that The Big Short is not going away and has impressed me as a late contender really managing to make its mark on the award season so far. With it opening in limited release today, now’s a perfect time to take another look at it.

One more time, a quick primer on what this is about. The film is an adaptation of the best selling Michael Lewis nonfiction book of the same name. It centers on the housing crisis and the chaos brought on by the banks in the mid to late 2000’s. Essentially, some tried to take advantage of the looming calamity, while some fought against it, seeing what was coming before anyone else did. We watch as those few outsiders in the industry with foresight like the characters played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling. They make their moves, all as the collapse gets closer and closer to happening. The aforementioned McKay directs and co-writes the adaptation of Lewis’ book with Charles Randolph, while the giant A-list cast includes, besides the previously mentioned Bale, Carell, and Gosling, the likes of Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and quite a few more in addition to those already cited. Cinematography is by the great Barry Ackroyd as well. Lewis penned the non fiction books that became The Blind Side and Moneyball, so The Big Short already had a pedigree to it, that’s for sure. It’s just been interesting to see it take that ball and really run.

Christian Bale The BIG Short

I’ve praised this movie already before, so what I mainly want to talk about now is the recent run of good luck on the precursor circuit that it’s had. SAG gave it two nominations on Wednesday (Best Supporting Actor for Bale and Best Ensemble, which is like a Best Picture nomination), while the Globes really dug it yesterday, heaping four nominations in total (Best Actor in a Comedy for both Bale and Carell, Best Screenplay for McKay and Randolph, as well as Best Picture – Comedy). That’s a real solid run for the flick, which also won Best Ensemble from the National Board of Review. If you were betting against this one, you might want to rethink that position now.

Awards wise, I’ve previously said that The Big Short could wind up all over the place if it catches on with voters and does well with the precursors, so there’s no reason to change that line of thinking now. Nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (for McKay), Best Actor (for Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Bale mainly, but also perhaps for Gosling and Pitt), Best Supporting Actress (for Leo or Tomei), Best Adapted Screenplay (for McKay and Randolph), Best Cinematography (for Ackroyd), Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score are certain to be sought.. I’m not 100% certain what will ultimately happen here, but I can definitely see Picture and Adapted Screenplay (for McKay and Randolph) being in play, with Carell a potential threat in Actor and Bale hanging around to potentially upend the Supporting Actor field. Time will tell what happens here, but sleep on this one at your own peril. To use a financial term, you might want to be bullish about its prospects.

Starting today in limited release, audiences can see The Big Short for themselves and make their decisions about its quality, but I’m here to say once again that it’s the real deal folks. Some of the most clever cinematic choices are made in this one, including having Robbie deliver some of the more complex terms while sitting in a bubble bath. It’s that unique delivery system that really makes the tragedy on display palatable and perhaps even more effective than it otherwise would be. We’ll have to sit tight and wait to see how the Academy responds, but I have a hunch that they’re not going to ignore it…

Be sure to check out The Big Short, beginning its theatrical run today in limited release!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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