J. C. Chandor

J. C. Chandor


"Margin Call" Garners Oscar Nomination for J.C. Chandor '96

Writer-director's feature debut up for "Best Original Screenplay"

January 24, 2012 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio, Jan. 24, 2012 – “Margin Call,” the debut feature film by writer and director J.C. Chandor ’96 has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The film follows a group of traders and executives at a Wall Street investment bank through 36 hours in the fall of 2008, as they struggle to come to grips with a crisis that threatens to sweep them, their clients, and the entire firm away. 

“It is hard to believe that ‘Margin Call’ is Mr. Chandor’s first feature,” wrote A.O. Scott in The New York Times when the film debuted last fall. “His formal command — his ability to imply far more than he shows or says and to orchestrate a large, complex drama out of whispers, glances, and snippets of jargon — is downright awe-inspiring.”

“It was Chandor’s script,” wrote Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan, “filled with tart exchanges and involving situations that explore unexpected areas of corporate psychology and human behavior, that attracted the high-powered cast…”

The film’s ensemble cast includes Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Baker.

A varsity swimmer at Wooster who designed his own cultural film studies major, Chandor calls himself “a classic Wooster case.”

“I had decent but not great grades in high school, because I was highly motivated in some subjects, like the arts, drama, English, and history, but in math and science I was a screw up. Wooster saw something in me and I really flourished there. I got into theatre, took photography and painting classes.”

For his senior Independent Study project, Chandor wrote, shot, and edited a film that he now cheerfully admits was “a total overreach, too vast in scope and scale…but I got jobs right away after graduation based on it.”

Chandor wrote and directed scores of commercials, music videos, and documentaries before putting together all the pieces, from financing to cast to script, for his first feature.

The College of Wooster is America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research. Every Wooster senior works one-on-one with a faculty adviser to create an original research project, written work, performance or art exhibit. In the process, each develops independent judgment, analytical ability, creativity, project-management and time-management skills, and strong written and oral communication skills. Founded in 1866, the college enrolls approximately 2,000 students.