It’s nice to close out the year with two really good movies. Actually, two of the best of the year. Here are some quick reviews for them…
THE BIG SHORT
What is this? A comical look at how several financial outsiders caught wind of the pending housing crash a long time before it was about to happen, and how they proceeded to bet against the American economy by “shorting” mortgages and making money off of the banks collapsing. It’s everything 99 Homes wishes it was.
Who is in it? Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and a bunch of wigs to make them look less attractive.
Yeah, well, what makes it so special? It’s kind of just really shocking. It made me do almost a full run of emotions while watching it. I was, at different times, happy from laughing at the jokes, angry from the revelations of how the banks really screwed everyone over, and legitimately sad for our country for having this happen. Really, I felt sad in the same way I do as when I see a character I really like die in something else. This is one of the funniest depressing movies you’ll ever see. So kudos to Adam McKay for not going full slapstick and actually making a well-rounded movie that more people can enjoy than, say, Anchorman 2.
Well, what are your criticisms, so you don’t look super one-sided, you dummy? A lot of the terminology is very confusing, even when they try to dumb it down as simply and literally as a Jenga tower collapsing. McKay does his best to relay the info to the audience while still keeping it realistic. But a lot of times, things were happening and I just had to gauge whether they were good or bad based on how the characters were reacting. It’s not so confusing that I couldn’t follow it, just confusing enough to where it was one of my only complaints. Then again, they mention in the film that the confusing terminology was intentionally created by the jerks who caused all these problems so that people like me (and maybe even you) wouldn’t understand how we were getting screwed.
Does it have any awards potential? I think it might be a good Best Picture contender. It’s entertaining, topical, and creates a good discussion. I’m sure it will be a frontrunner for an adapted screenplay award, and maybe Steve Carrell or Christian Bale will even pull in acting noms. But I’m not sure it will actually win anything. It seems like an American Hustle-type movie that will get six nominations and go home empty-handed.
And your score? 9 out of 10.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
What is this? Quentin Tarantino’s eight film is about four travelers heading to a safe haven from a blizzard, and meeting four more people when they get there, thus making eight. That’s how math works. Those eight people are hateful. Don’t really want to spoil anything else.
Who is in it? Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern, Channing Tatum, Damian Bachir, Walton Goggins, not so subtle racism, the use of the word “dingus” more than once, and some great snowy exteriors.
Yeah, well, what makes it so special? Well, aside from this being another awesome Tarantino move… I went to the 70mm “roadshow” presentation of this film, which is totally worth going to if it’s playing near you. We drove an hour to see it and it’s worth it for the experience. There’s an overture before the movie, there’s some extra shots thrown into this version that you won’t see in the regular one (when it goes wide), you get a cool roadshow program book as a souvenir, and there’s even an intermission because the whole thing is over three hours long. Might I add, as someone with a weak bladder, the intermission is great! The whole 70mm visual experience was really good too, with all of those snow-covered scenics looking pretty darn awesome. Oh yea, and it has a *new*, original Ennio Morricone score, which did nothing but improve things as well. How old does that guy have to be by now? He’s got to be in his 90s… Well, he’s still doing good work. [he’s 87, I looked it up]
The story itself is really engaging, as a slow burn that just keeps escalating and escalating until it becomes peak Tarantinoan insanity and bloodshed. It took a lot of crazy turns and surprises that I didn’t see coming, and after seeing the revelations to the mystery you’re waiting the entire film to uncover, it makes me really want to go back and see it again so I can watch the first half of the movie in a new light. I get a feeling like I might enjoy it even more on the second go-around. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though, as I don’t think many directors have as much repeat watchability to me as Tarantino does. I’ve probably seen all of his movies seven times each or more (including Death Proof and his segment in Four Rooms).
Well, what are your criticisms, so you don’t look super one-sided, you dummy? Tarantino uses his “Chapter” formatting again that he’s used two times before with Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. It’s not a super terrible thing, but it has kind of lost its novelty. At least he pokes fun at it at the start of chapter four. And maybe the very end could have had more of a bang, but I also didn’t hate how it ended, either. I don’t really know what else he could have done by that point?
Does it have any awards potential? I imagine it will get a screenplay nomination, and a possible win for Jennifer Jason Leigh. Might be in the running for Best Picture and Cinematography awards as well. That’d be cool if Sam Jackson managed to somehow get a nomination, to which he hasn’t been in the running for since his Pulp Fiction nomination back in 1994, which doesn’t make sense. He should have gotten nominated for Django Unchained, too. OH WELL, doubt that will happen, as it’s probably a crowded field for Best Actor. I hope Morricone at least gets a nomination for his music, as well.
And your score? Also a 9 out of 10. Like I said, two of the best films of the year.