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Soundtrack review: The big short (Nicholas Britell – 2015)

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Soundtrack review: The big short (Nicholas Britell – 2015)


The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Adam McKay. It is based on the 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, about the financial crisis of 2007–2010 by the build-up of the housing and credit bubble. The film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. Interesting subject and a mouthwatering cast, I will surely watch this one. Even without these credentials I would have prioritized listening to this score because it’s written by Nicholas Britell who stunned me a while back with his perfect score for Natalie Portman’s “A tale of love and darkness”.

A cue like “Boring old banking” could have expressed boredom in another way. But the composer cleverly replaced boredom with leisurely and even for someone like me who’s been working for 14 years at a bank the “boredom” sounds quite dreamy and idyllic. And even this cue is nothing compared to the awesome theme for “Lewis Ranieri” which sound as if it was taken from the 70s cop movies. Smooth and spectacular funky goodness that’s addictive and charming and I can’t get enough of it.

But this is not everything. Nicholas Britell wants to show us the variety of his craft and throws an atmospheric cue, the best kind… then something you haven’t heard before… Mouseclick Symphony Mvmt 1””. This is not a joke. The cue is exactly what the title says, and it’s awesome. It will fight for most interesting and innovative cue of the year with some from Daniel Pemberton’s “Steve Jobs”.

Usually when I write about music I like to write about how it makes me feel and less about what the music really is. But this score caught me by surprise and I’m like a kid who sees his first Christmas tree. I look at every decoration and marvel, and I feel joy, gratitude and then move to the next and it’s the same thing. The excitement of the moment when I hear a cue from “The big short” trumps everything else and I will analyze my feelings upon further listening because oh yes I am going to listen to this score religiously.

I will call this one of the best atmospheric scores of the year but the album is so much more; it’s a trip inside a mind of either one of the characters. We get his perspective from the reflective moments to the action one right until the deafening silence when the mouse clicks and key presses get so loud they almost silence the beating of the hear. The cherry on top are the funky cues which will delight every single one of you and, of course the 12 minutes long piano suite. Nicholas Britell is two for two this y ear for perfect score and he completes my top three most exciting composers I discovered this year alongside Rob Simonsen and Dan Romer.

Cue rating: 100 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 38 / 38

Album excellence: 100%



Boring Old Banking

Lewis Ranieri

America’s Number One Industry

Glass Eye

Mouseclick Symphony Mvmt 1

Does It Make You Bored

The Dopeness

I Love My Job


Truth Is Like Poetry

Jamie & Charlie & the Sec Girl

Shorting the Aa



Redemption at the Roulette Table

I Offered Him Money

Restricting Withdrawals

New Century

To Kathy’s Office

15 Billion

I Say When We Sell

Smells Like Sheep

The Big Short Piano Suite

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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