The movie I saw this weekend was in fact nominated for an Oscar (Best Original Screenplay )– so it’s not like I’ve dredged something up from total obscurity. But up against the PR push that now surrounds The Help, The Artist, The Descendants and War Horse, no one could be blamed for not knowing about Margin Call.
But now that you do know, you should really run-don’t-walk over to your computer or your cable box or wherever you get on-demand movies and watch Margin Call because it’s one of the coolest, most suspenseful films of the year. Apparently it’s on VOD everywhere. Set in 2008, this one’s about a group of young guys – and their superiors – who discover what might be the unraveling on Wall Street that managed, trickle-downishly, to cost millions and millions of Americans their jobs. Oh, and their homes and their savings. It’s about bankers and even if you loathe the topic and don’t want to be reminded of America’s financial collapse, it’s totally worth watching because it’s genuinely fascinating. And funny, if you can believe it (you’ll see exactly what that screenplay Oscar is for –the dialogue is fantastic). Margin Call is not, however, grim to watch or any kind of morality tale. It’s an insider story that’s every bit as gripping as any thriller out there.
The best thing about Margin Call is the screenplay (for which it was nominated), and the cast (many of whom should have been). This is a movie that features subtlety, cunning and manipulation at its sober and buttoned-up best, from Demi Moore as a company bigwig who may or may not have known what was going to happen, to Kevin Spacey, who doesn’t really want to pull the triggers he’s been asked to pull. Stanley Tucci is weary and amazing as a recently pink-slipped executive.
Zachary Quinto is the young financial analyst who uncovers what’s going on with the assistance of loopy sidekick Penn Badgley and Paul Bettany, playing another one of his scary, bitter civil-servant roles. Jeremy Irons oozes a substance that seems to be 50% charm and 50% slime, that’s also 100% riveting. The cast is superb and you’ll find yourself on the edge of your seat (or couch). How far will these Wall Street investment bankers go to thwart a major catastrophe? And where do you draw the line between self-preservation and greed? Between survival and complicity? These are the questions addressed, and the beauty of the film is that they’re explored without ever being directly answered. Which makes Margin Call that much more powerful and resonant. This is a movie you won’t get out of your mind for a long, long time.
1) Kevin Spacey
2) Zachary Quinto
3) Jeremy Irons
4) Simon Baker