WASHINGTON — Adam McKay is about to have a very big weekend. The director who was once best known for Will Ferrell slapstick vehicles like “Anchorman” and “Step Brothers “is up for five of the most prestigious Oscars for his latest film, “The Big Short”: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing.
Win or lose, McKay has vaulted from an improv comedy maverick into the toast of tinseltown. And he’s done it with a nakedly liberal film. “The Big Short”chronicles Wall Street’s 2008 implosion through the eyes of a handful of traders betting against the mortgage market. It’s a darkly funny film with no heroes that is ultimately a message piece about Wall Street’s frightening stranglehold on the American economy. It’s about wealthy elites ruining America, while other wealthy elites embark on a nerdy, misguided quest to save it.
In an interview with The Huffington Post’s “So That Happened” podcast last month, however, McKay emphasized that “The Big Short” is not a fundamentally partisan movie, despite its Wall Street venom.
“This issue at it’s heart should not be right-wing, left-wing,” McKay said. “This is an issue that effects everybody. And I think the studio knew that. … All knew that this should not be a partisan film. So we went out of our way not to say, Bush just did the bailout, Obama didn’t prosecute people, Clinton deregulated. We didn’t want to get into that. We just wanted to show the system.”
Listen to HuffPost’s interview with McKay in the podcast below. The interview begins at the 14:30 mark:
Hollywood, McKay argued, isn’t really a very liberal place — despite the decades-old stereotype of the Hollywood liberal. “The Big Short” ascended through the ranks because studio executives and marketing professionals recognized the commercial appeal of a populist story with famous actors like Brad Pitt and Christian Bale — not because they were ideologically in the tank for its message.
“Ultimately Hollywood wants to make money,” McKay said. “If you look at who owns the studios, its Viacom, it’s Disney, it’s, you know, Comcast. These are big, mean corporations that only care about money.”
“We made the “Big Short,” a month later the Benghazi movie by Michael Bay comes out of the exact same studio,” McKay continued. “I’m not going to name specific people that are right-wing, but there are a lot in Hollywood. The idea that Hollywood is left-wing is ridiculous. … Yes, there are enclaves of people that Hillary or Obama can show up and raise money at their house. There’s no question that happens. But when it comes down to it, you still have to go through that corporate filter. And that corporate filter only cares about money, product and [intellectual property] — that’s it.”
The Oscars will air on Sunday night at 5:30 p.m. EST.