Writer-director J.J. Chandor has said that he wanted to portray the 2008 financial meltdown in all its complexity, assigning everyone a fair share of the blame. But the real strength of his debut feature is how persuasively it depicts the fishbowl world of high finance, whose executives seem incapable of seeing past their towering salaries and privileged lives. The movie takes place in the glistening offices of a global financial firm over the course of about 36 hours, as a junior derivatives trader (Zachary Quinto, who also produced) discovers how catastrophically overleveraged the company is. As the bad news works its way up the chain of command to the British business titan at the top (Jeremy Irons), everyone involved calculates how best to insulate himself from the shitstorm that’s about to erupt. The ostensible hero is a senior executive (Kevin Spacey) who dares to mention out loud the average joes who are about to get pulled under, but in the end he’s more broken up over his dying labrador retriever. The blue-chip cast also includes Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci.