After thanking his wife, children, and Lewis “for writing an amazing book,” McKay offered some advice to the Oscars audience: “If you don’t want big money to control government, don’t vote for candidates who take money from big banks, oil, or weirdo millionaries,” he said.
The political conversation continued backstage, where McKay was asked whether his acceptance speech comments were about a particular candidate. “The amazing thing about this movie has been that we’ve seen Bill O’Reilly and Bernie Sanders support this movie,” McKay said. “This is a right-left movie, and we’ve got to stop, man. Big Money is taking over our government, and until right and left go, ‘No more Big Money,’ it has to be like a scarlet letter on these candidates. I really honestly did not mean either side, but like, Google it. Just Google it. You can see what the candidates have been paid, and when you elect people who get money from banks and oil and billionaires, that’s who they vote for.”
The Big Short was a brainy departure for director McKay, whose previously best-known film was Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. But with Lewis’ book as source material, the film explains the 2008 housing market crisis in digestable, entertaining, and incredibly poignant detail. “This book, when I read it, it just felt like it combined so many different elements that I loved,” McKay told EW. “It had, first off, tons of information that I wasn’t familiar with. It had great characters at the root of it: I think that was the key. The characters were so amazing.”
He continues: “But at the same time, it’s Michael Lewis: So it had a sense of humor, it had an energy, it was a page-turner. The second I put it down, it was one of those weird things where I knew exactly how I would do it. I would break the fourth wall. You have to have a conversation with these characters.” McKay also told EW in 2014 that Lewis served as a resource during the adaptation-writing process. “I was happy to show him the script when I was done with my first draft,” McKay said, “and he was incredibly excited by how ambitious it was.
McKay and Randolph beat Nick Hornby (Brooklyn), Phyllis Nagy (Carol), Drew Goddard (The Martian), and Emma Donoghue (Room).
Additional reporting by Marc Snetiker.