“The Big Short,” Paramount’s awards season gamble, should have a nice payoff
“The Big Short” wasn’t really on my radar even after its positive reception during its world premiere at AFI Film Festival last month. This is a crazy time of year with events, parties, travel, and screenings. I hate when a last minute movie drops by at the end of the year shaking up awards season. I prefer movies throughout the year that have stuck with me. However, “The Big Short” is likely to be that late and welcoming contender that audiences, and awards voters, will enjoy.
I became more interested in seeing “The Big Short” after its significant limited release box office this past weekend and solid, Oscar friendly CinemaScore A grade. Based on the best-selling book by “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side” author Michael Lewis, it boasts an all-star cast including Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Because of the track record regarding the source material alone, both adaptations did very well among audiences and the industry.
“The Big Short” has one major advantage over many of the awards season crop of films this year: it is a comedy. Looking through the list of contenders and my screener pile, it is refreshing that a savvy movie with comedic elements has a clear populist bent on an enraging issue. In a month where the federal reserve decided to raise interest rates and Presidential candidates rage against “the powers that be,” the economic condition is on the forefront of viewers minds. Serving a serious subject matter for laughs is what anxious Americans would prefer over dramas like 99 Homes.
A pleasant surprise with “The Big Short” is a departure on tone from director Adam McKay (mostly known for funny and obnoxious Will Ferrell movies). He seems to want to transition his career from sophomoric to sophisticated comedy. Box office success and awards nomination could reward him smoothly for trying something new. “The Big Short” is one of those very rare pieces of entertainment for the “chattering class” with vital crossover/mainstream appeal (i.e. TV’s “True Detective,” Broadway’s The Book Of Mormon, the Serial podcast).
Allegiances have been divided across various movies this year. “The Big Short” has showed consistency with receiving significant nominations with SAG and Golden Globe. It recently made the AFI top ten list! Momentum is everything and the payoff should treat “The Big Short” nicely. Its upcoming wide release is key, but movies with rave reviews and interesting subject matter do well at the end of the year. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will hit a saturation point and adults will want to see a movie that isn’t set in a galaxy far, far away. Adults who want to seek out an alternative will have the perfect choice with the topical comedy “The Big Short.”