After The Big Short won last weekend’s PGA Daryl F. Zanuck award I had the following exchange with a director friend who’s been a Big Short praiser from the get-go:
Director friend: “Do you still think I steered you wrong?”
HE: “The Big Short is a good film but calm down.”
Director friend: “Bubba, you don’t get off that easy. After your initial viewing of The Big Short you shamed me, ridiculed me, questioned my Oscar predicting manhood. I told you it was a contender and I was banished to the Elba of your mind for saying so. On the other hand, when I told you to calm down about Truth, I was ridiculed the other way. You said it was on the level of All The President’s Men.”
HE: “Truth and All The President’s Men are analagous. One is a success story, the other is about failure. Truth is a complex tale of a journalistic disaster that is ironically compounded by the fact that the reporters, despite their failure to fully vet the Killian documents, were reporting the truth about George Bush‘s record in the National Guard. They were right but they got taken down anyway when the Karl Rove brigade went after the report and CBS corporates felt they had no choice but to wash their hands.
“Yes, I found The Big Short too dense and wonky after the first viewing, but I warmed up to it with a second viewing, and now I’d actually like to see it a third time with a friend.”
I wrote the director friend this morning after Spotlight won the SAG ensemble award, which of course meant a loss for The Big Short, which had been favored to win by certain blogaroonies (Sasha Stone, Kris Tapley, Glenn Whipp).
HE: “Like I said last weekend, ‘calm down.'”
Director friend: “Dude, just because The Big Short didn’t win an ensemble award doesn’t mean it’s not a player. I told you it was going to be in the mix. You told me that I was wrong and that I misled you. Do you still think that?”
HE: “I admire The Big Short six ways from Sunday but I don’t love it. I admire it, it’s very good, it says the right things, it’s a first-rate Bernie Sanders movie. But it just doesn’t deliver that emotional rock ‘n’ roll when it comes to being a Best Picture contender.”
Director friend: “But it is in the mix, which is what I told you.
“My point way back then was that you should start talking about The Big Short now because nobody is saying one fucking peep bout it. I wanted to help you get an edge over anybody else. I was being a pal, a fan, a loyalist. And what happened? You talked about it ahead of everybody else. And then. you saw the movie and told all of us we were wrong.. even though we were clearly right in the end,
“Personally, I am voting for The Revenant and George Miller, and The Big Short for screenplay. I wish that Idris Elba was nominated the same way I wish Elizabeth Warren was running for the Democratic nomination.
“What you’re saying about The Big Short I felt about Spotlight. Admirable, well acted, earnest. But nowhere in the same hemisphere as All The President’s Men. It should win the Emmy.”
HE: “Spotlight is easily in the same realm as All The President’s Men….easily. On top of which it’s 100% bulletproof in terms of lasting cinematic value. ‘It should win the Emmy’? It’s a really degenerate thing when even guys like yourself say ‘I like Spotlight but where’s the cinematic swagger? Where are the knock-your-socks-off visuals? Where are the scenes of people crying and running down rainy streets to help a car-accident victim and hugging children? Where are the threat and suspense elements? Where are the car chases? It all happens indoors, in apartments and offices. We like those adrenalized moments, those sugar rushes, and at the end of the day Spotlight doesn’t have a raping bear or a guy playing power chords on an electric guitar atop a moving truck or, you know, eye-popping wintry vistas or drop-dead-beautiful shots of the desert.”