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This Brad Pitt movie is Netflix’s most popular drama now. Here’s why you should watch it

Netflix never ceases to surprise us when it comes to making classic films more popular than ever. This week, The Big Short shot to the top of Netflix’s 10 most popular movies list despite only achieving moderate success in theaters when it was released in 2015. Adam McKay co-wrote and directed The Big Short, and it remains one of the best films that he has ever made.

The movie is based on Michael Lewis’ hit nonfiction book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, which chronicles the financial crisis of 2007-2008 as the housing bubble collapsed and the economy crashed just in time for the 2008 election. Somehow, McKay and his co-writer, Charles Randolph, took that depressing episode in American history and made a great comedy out of it. That’s no easy task!

Now that The Big Short is enjoying its streaming afterlife, we’re going to share three reasons why you should watch it.

The all-star cast

The cast of The Big Short.

The Big Short may not have had a blockbuster budget, but it boasted a lineup of performers that any director would love to have. Former Batman star Christian Bale gets a lot to do as Michael Burry, one of the first investors to realize that the housing market is on the verge of collapse. The Office‘s Steve Carell also has a prominent role as an investor named Mark Baum. Brad Pitt plays a supporting role as veteran trader Ben Rickert, a man who helps Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) and Charlie Geller (John Margo) profit off of the coming collapse while also reminding them about the human cost of their actions.

Even the supporting cast is an embarrassment of riches with Jeremy Strong, Marisa Tomei, Finn Wittrock, and more. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that The Big Short has excellent performances throughout the film. Sometimes, the stars really do make the movie.

Wall Street 101

Selena Gomez appears as herself in The Big Short.

One of the biggest challenges facing The Big Short is that it’s full of the inner workings of Wall Street that few outsiders understand. McKay’s solution is that he takes several asides to explain the market terminology and underlying factors in a humorous way. As much as some people might run away from anything that’s considered educational, this movie really is inventive with the way it gets the information across.

Of course, it helps when these micro lessons are imparted by very familiar faces, including Only Murders in the Building‘s Selena Gomez (pictured above), Barbie star Margot Robbie, and even the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. These sequences pull off the neat trick of being truly informative and yet also funny and entertaining at the same time. If economics classes were this fun, there would be a lot more day traders.

It’s all too real

Christian Bale in The Big Short.

If The Big Short was simply a fictional story, it would still be wildly successful on its own terms. But the film’s attention to detail and historical accuracy elevates it to another level. It’s not just a cautionary tale — it’s a warning. Unscrupulous banking and trading practices crashed the U.S. economy, and the odds are good that it will happen again. Someone is always betting on the markets to fail.

And while this movie changes some of the names and attempts to humanize the main players, it’s a master study in its depiction of greed. Unfortunately, the lessons gleaned from this recounting are likely to be ignored by the same people who would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Watch The Big Short on Netflix.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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