Oscars 2016: Spotlight (2015) and The Big Short (2015)
Two Best Picture Oscar nominations based on the unraveling of two very different major world events, both treated in very different manners: Spotlight and The Big Short.
Director: Tom McCarthy
Stars: Mark Ruffalo (Mike Rezendes), Michael Keaton (Walter Robinson), Rachel McAdams (Sacha Pfeiffer)
Spotlight is a very dry film. It does nothing fancy with its direction, visuals or atmosphere. Instead it delievers a script that really pulls the audience in. Having not known about the scandal itself made the story interesting enough, but the added perspective of the newspaper company is a very compelling way to look at the matter without ever seeming too preachy. There is very little of the use of the medium of film to add extra expression though, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it makes the facts the top priority. But it also means that there isn’t any really breathtaking moments of film. The same story could have been told in a book or a documentary and perhaps have acheived the same effect. There is also very little room for the stars to really shine, which is why it is very odd to see Rachel McAdams nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
The Big Short (2015)
Director: Adam McKay
Stars: Christian Bale (Michael Burry), Steve Carell (Mark Baum), Ryan Gosling (Jared Vennett)
Director Adam McKay is known for bringing us the Anchorman films. With The Big Short he takes one foot out of comedy with a look at those that managed to profit during the 2008 financial crisis. There are still some great jokes that hit well though, which is impressive considering the dense subject matter that is being dealt with. These conflicting ideals of laughter and knowledge have perhaps resulted in a difficult to market film however, perhaps leading to its bad performance at the box office. It has also lead to a slightly messy film overall that perhaps has too many ideas and only manages to successfully execute them about half the time. An odd beast for sure, with some decent performances (such as from Bale) and some not-so-great (like Carell’s use of his Michael Scott mannerisms). The Big Short is not short of ambition, it just can’t consitently deliever.