One of the most acclaimed movies from the festival circuit this year is 99 Homes, the latest from Chop Shop and Man Push Cart director Ramin Bahrani. Set in Florida in the aftermath of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, the suspenseful drama stars Michael Shannon as real-estate shark Rick Carver and Andrew Garfield as the man that Carver kicks out of his home and then tries to make his apprentice.
Bahrani, whom Roger Ebert called “the new great American director” and “the new director of the decade” in 2009, is known for the immersive research he does in advance of all his films, and his process making 99 Homes was no exception: The filmmaker spent weeks riding the streets with real-estate brokers as they conducted evictions, going to Florida’s “rocket docket” courts as they sped through foreclosure after foreclosure, and visiting the motels where families were living after getting torn from their homes. But though it’s grounded in realism, 99 Homes also works as a Faustian thriller, in the mode of Wall Street or Training Day.
99 Homes opens on Sept. 25, which is just in time to build Oscar buzz for Shannon—though the filmmakers surely hope it will start a larger conversation.