Academy Awards Addendum: INSIDE JOB

As an addendum to my previous post about this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature, here are some brief thoughts about the fifth nominee, INSIDE JOB.

Charles Ferguson, who gained acclaim for his previous film, NO END IN SIGHT, debuted his searing analysis of the causes of the worldwide financial crisis of 2008 at Cannes last year, with additional festival exposure at Telluride, Toronto, and the New York Film Festival before its theatrical release in the fall.

The film is pretty much guaranteed to anger viewers, justifiably pointing fingers at the Wall Street CEOs who made millions even as they fostered systemic instability in their own industry, ultimately leading to bankruptcies, the bottom falling out of the housing market, and widespread joblessness in the face of the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression. Investigating the causes for the growth of power and wealth among the Wall Street elite, Ferguson shows how a system of deregulation pushed by the Reagan administration, encouraged by the Federal Reserve thereafter, and championed by a strong lobby resulted in a culture of greed, risk, and fraud that put profit above ordinary people’s livelihoods. While the director is confrontational a number of times in his interviews with insiders who resolutely refuse to acknowledge their own or their comrades’ culpability, perhaps the most revelatory and damning statements made are by those individuals and institutions who refused to participate in the film. Though it may not be the most artful of the five Oscar nominees, its message is powerful and should be required viewing by everyone affected by the recession – which is pretty much everyone but the wealthiest Americans, who profited from the meltdown.


Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations

2 responses to “Academy Awards Addendum: INSIDE JOB

  1. topiary

    Hi Basil,

    I was really disappointed in this film. I was so ready to love it and I was totally rooting for it to do something important as a film and add to the national conversation about this financial crisis — but I thought the film actually did a surprising poor job of getting into the nitty gritty of what caused the financial meltdown. What it did explain relied so heavily on boring, not very well thought out graphics — and still, if you did know much about what caused the crisis — I think you would leave the film confused. I was annoyed in some of his interviews that it seemed like he was more interested in scoring points and proving how tough he is — rather than actually get the subjects to talk in a more thoroughly informative way.

    In contrast to this documentary, I think “The Giant Pool of Money” – a radio piece by the This American Life contributors and the follow up radio pieces that they did were much superior to “Inside Job.” Even the flawed PBS/Frontline documentary about the fall of Lehman Brothers did a better job of laying out the what and the why….

    I applaud Charles Ferguson for making films about important subject matters – I just wish they were better!

    your comrade,


  2. Pingback: Inside Job – the film (we and) George Osborne really, really need to study | Strictly Politically

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