In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb mv5bnda4ymmwmgity2mzos00odjilthmzdetyza5ngu4zjq5yjhixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al


God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

Thumb same kind of different as me

Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary bigshort

If We Picked the Winners 2016: Best Adapted Screenplay

In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see who they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Peter Sobczynski makes the case for the best adapted screenplay of 2015: "The Big Short" by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay. Two winners will be announced Monday through Thursday, ending in our choices for Best Director and Best Picture on Friday. 

In his 2010 best-seller “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” Michael Lewis offered up a lucid and gripping examination of the causes for the 2008 meltdown and how a few keen observers who actually noticed the obvious warning signs were able to make millions while others were losing entire fortunes. Of course, sharply written financial journalism is not exactly the kind of thing that transfers from the page to the screen very well—with a book, anyone getting bogged down in the sometimes overwhelming mass of details can always flip back a few pages to go over the unclear points. But in adapting the book, co-writers Adam McKay & Charles Randolph managed to transform the complicated into the compelling. 


As Stanley Kubrick did when he transformed the grim Cold War drama “Red Alert” into “Dr. Strangelove,” McKay & Randolph realized that by lacing the ostensibly serious story with comedy—ranging from the hilariously profane dialogue to the inspired decision to use familiar faces like Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez to pop up and explain the more complicated financial maneuvers—the story would not only go down easier but audiences would have a better chance of finally understanding what happened without having it dumbed down for them. The writers also remembered that for all the talk about numbers and credit swap defaults and the like, this story is ultimately about people, and they gave actors like Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt some of the most nuanced characters they've played in their respective careers. 

Finally, and perhaps the trickiest of all, the co-writers made sure to remind viewers that even as they were rooting for the characters to pull off their big gambles to play the system for millions and millions of dollars, their triumphs would come at the expense of the catastrophic ruin of countless people who didn’t see what was coming and lost nearly everything as a result. Some of the best moments in the film come from showing how our heroes shift from delight to despair as all of their grim predictions come hideously true. Thanks to McKay and Randolph’s efforts, “The Big Short” is simultaneously a savage comedy, a fascinating drama and a warning for us all to be vigilant so that such events can never happen again. Of course, as the title cards in the coda suggest, that warning may already be too late.

Popular Blog Posts

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Tears of a Machine: The Humanity of Luv in "Blade Runner 2049"

No character in “Blade Runner 2049” is more relatably human than Luv.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus