Your claims about the plot in MARGIN CALL are pretty much refuted by dozens of professional and on-line reviewers. Your observations about the characters seem to be driven by a desire to refute the premise of the film, in order to deflect the underlying moral and character issues that the film handles in aits distributed, low-key, but ultimately devastating way. MARGIN CALL shows characters forced to do things they would never do under normal circumstances, with a radical duality emerging from the actions and situations that unfold in the film. .
Additional testimony from other reviewers:
"What I like especially about the movie is the fact that it doesn't try to explain the technical causes of the Financial Crisis but the psychological causes - human failures, which are the real cause for the Crisis: greed, egotism, ignorance. Many scenes in this movie deal with very little dialogue, instead the body language and the unique atmosphere speaks for itself."
"The life of these bankers seems totally severed from the outside world, they have no real connection with normal people and seem to – speaking exaggeratingly – lack an understanding of real human values, that there could be more behind life than just maximizing and making money. They are completely left behind in their own world, which somehow got out of control. Even when the imminent truth reveals itself and the consequences are becoming more clearer, it always feels like they are cut off; there is a scene in a taxi with Quinto and Badgley that underlines this."
From a reviewer who actually worked in the business:
"As a person that worked during the financial crisis in the financial sector, and have earlier in my career, like Zachary Quinto's character, attended board meetings as the main risk specialist, doing a (much smaller) crisis. I can say that this is very realistic. From constantly searching for errors or inconsistencies in your risk models or risk measures, and then finding something. To then reacting, and trying to convey the importance of your findings to the upper management. To the way your are instructed to only speak when asked to, in the boardroom. And when asked to speak, you are somehow more articulate than at any other point in your life, and you see the effect of your words on powerful people, and that your words creates action. What a rush! This movie captures those moments, their tension and atmosphere, better than most other movies I have seen, and might also do so better than in real life itself."
People carried along by their greed, guided to disaster by golden tongues, carriers of a disease that will spread like--well, like a pandemic on steroids. All of which initiates a plague of financial collapse that will wreak havoc on lives well beyond the cocoon world in which they operate, and sow chaos for years thereafter.
Such a sequence is post-modern neo-noir, regardless of quibbles about whether the film is depicting "exactly what happened" in 2008. From the point of view of style and tone, MARGIN CALL provides another bracing variant of the actor's showcase in a film where we find out what happens when finance fails to follow (human) nature and doesn't remember to abhor a vacuum. In terms of the divergent understructures of noir and neo-noir, the film's radical dualism between the ethics of everyday life (Tucci's character) and the amoral long view of boom and bust (the world-view of Irons' character) is anchored by dualistic impulses in the two different strains of noir: on one hand, the holdover notion that noir follows the form of tragedy, in which there are apocalyptic events that coalesce around an eschatology (what literary critics call "the sense of an ending"), where the noir protagonist is analogous to "the crucified one" (in the New Testament, literally Christ; in the world of noir, a fall guy/victim/martyr in spite of his/her human failings; on the other hand, in the "post-modern", "neo" formulation, a random cycle of creation and destruction initiated by a character who may or may not be punished for doing so, and where forces take on a life of their own and simply overwhelm any and all systems of order.
Metaphor drives this world of neo-noir, not the wonky, literalist precision of plot details; think of the metaphorical aspect of the dying dog and its reverberations in the action. What is noir in both the classic and "neo" formulation is not simply a tangible, physical crime--though events quite often escalate to such a point--but instead a crossroads of existence; a line crossed that can't be stepped back over to safety; an impending event that no amount of effort can forestall. Classic noir, despite a goodly amount of special pleading to the contrary, is (mostly) a moral world that's been corrupted; neo-noir, on the other hand, presupposes an amoral world that is just playing out its string, and the level and nature of its corruption is relative to the perceived value of the string.
So--after all that, humor me and keep MARGIN CALL on the list where it belongs. (Where on the list it resides in terms of its ultimate quality is TBD.) And please start re-examining the films on the Top 25 list, which is how this process should be working. Remember that my list is not meant to be an alternative to the Top 25, it's just a list of films below what you constructed that are meant to be examined AFTER you've re-evaluated the Top 25.