99 Homes promises to be the first big film about the 2008 housing crisis, and it delivers. Starring Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon, the movie tells the story of Dennis Nash (Garfield), a young man who gets evicted from his family home in Florida in the wake of the economic crash and takes a job with the real estate broker who evicted him (Shannon) in order to provide for his son and mother. The film, with its bleak color pallet and even bleaker subject matter, paints a horrifically real portrait of the housing crisis. 99 Homes is not based on a true story, but it is inspired by countless firsthand accounts of those who have been on both sides of the eviction process in recent years. Writer-director Ramin Bahrani traveled to Florida to research while writing the film, he told Interview, and used many of the stories he learned in the film.
99 Homes may be one of the first films about the housing crisis, but it won't be the last. In fact, other films have explored other aspects of the economic crash — from the bank trades that started it all, to layoffs and, yes, evictions. Here are a few to watch after you see 99 Homes.
This 2011 drama from writer-director J.C. Chandor takes place in an investment bank and covers the dramatic 24 hours before the financial crisis began. With an all-star cast that includes Zachary Quinto, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons, Margin Call allows for its actors to give high-powered bankers a touch of humanity. And because the film deals solely with bankers, there isn't a clear bad guy vs. good guy narrative. For anyone who wants to watch a well-made, compelling film specifically about the crash, then Margin Call is by far your best bet.
Too Big To Fail
Based on a book of the same name, HBO's original film Too Big To Fail focused on how the government handled the financial crisis of 2008. William Hurt stars as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, as he attempts to manage the 2008 crisis, namely the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and the government bailout that followed. The film also stars James Woods as Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld and Paul Giamatti as Chairman of the Federal Reserve System Ben Bernanke.
The Company Men
Unlike Margin Call and Too Big To Fail, The Company Men doesn't focus on what caused the crash, but on how it affected the lives of three working men and their families. It's also by far the most "Hollywood" movie of the bunch. The film stars Ben Affleck as a family man who loses his nice office job and ends up working construction for his brother-in-law played by Kevin Costner. Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper also star in the film, written and directed by John Wells.
The Big Short
Based on the book by Michael Lewis, The Big Short is a dramedy about four men who predict the housing crisis in 2005 and decide to bet against the big banks before their inevitable collapse. Starring Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and an impressive array of unattractive wigs, The Big Short is sure to cause a splash when it hits theaters on Dec. 11, 2015.
Other movies with similar themes include Up In The Air, Wall Street and, for a family friendly alternative, Ramona and Beezus, but few are as powerful as 99 Homes.
Image: Broad Green Pictures