The financial world is quite complex and can makes for great cinema. Drama, action, betrayal, comedy, tragedy, comedy, are all present in the many finance films that Hollywood has produced over the years. Of course, nothing can compare with reading a a book about this industry and how the decisions impact an individual. But when it comes to simplifying the language and adding a little bit of extra drama there is no denial that films can offer a better entertainment.
But if you want to take the time to watch the best, here’s a list of ten that many people consider to be the cream of the crop.
1. Wall Street (1987)
One movie everyone interested in finance should definitely see. Originally crafted to show the excess and hedonism associated with finance, Wall Street still wields incredible power as a recruiting tool for traders, brokers, analysts, and bankers nearly 30 years after it was made.1
Although the movie serves to warn us about the dangers of insider trading, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be Bud Fox or even Gordon Gekko (legitimately, of course) and indulge a bit in our greedy side; after all, as Gekko would say, “Greed is good.”
2. The Big Short
A great true story involving the few men who bet against the investment banks going into the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
It is a really great movie that brings to life the failures of investment banks and institutions to even be able to understand the products they imaginatively create to try to make a profit.
A roller coaster ride with a stellar cast, well worth the time invested.
3. The Wolf of Wall Street
The film is based upon an original adaptation of the book with the same name. Based on a true story and life of Jordan Belfort, the film depicts the rise and fall of a charismatic and unscrupulous stockbroker who ends up in prison for securities fraud. The picture received both critical acclaims as well as scrutiny.
4. Boiler Room
“Boiler Room” is the story of a college dropout (portrayed by actor Giovanni Ribisi) who fraudulently sells stocks of fake or closed companies for a crooked financial firm.
The film’s title refers to an investment or brokerage boutique selling dubious investments (often questionable penny stocks) over the phone. The movie also features a young Vin Diesel, before he was either fast or furious.
5. Other People’s Money
“Other People’s Money” is the story of “Larry the Liquidator” (Danny DeVito), a corporate raider who decides to take over a cable company through a hostile takeover—a popular tactic during the 80s and 90s.
6. The Ascent of Money
The history of money and how it has grown from a tool to be able to trade goods and services more easily, to a dominating factor in society.
7.Capitalism: A Love Story
Michael Moore is back and turning his critical gaze on Capitalism itself. Entertaining, thought-provoking, and ultimately a great watch this movie is highly recommended.
The historical aspects of the movie and the implications of what he depicts are powerful.
Margin Call takes place over the span of 24 hours in the life of a Wall Street firm on the brink of disaster (modeled closely after some of the large bulge brackets).
Margin Call does little to hide its contempt for the reckless risk-taking by some of the largest banks in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, such as trading complex derivative instruments they themselves barely understood. An incredibly poignant scene in the movie features two main characters talking among themselves about the impending catastrophe that will soon be unleashed upon their bank and the unsuspecting financial landscape, while a janitor stands between them, completely oblivious to what is going on.
“Equity” portrays Naomi Bishop (played by a post-Breaking Bad Anna Gunn), an investment banker working on a big tech initial public offering, or IPO, for her employer. Simultaneously, though, she becomes entangled in an insider trading scheme with her boyfriend.
This movie can help you gain insight into the nuances of investment banking and IPOs. And, of course, fraud.
10. Trading Places
This movie is not only hilarious but illustrates a surprisingly accurate, albeit dramatic, example of a commonly misunderstood topic: short selling. In the film’s dramatic climax, Eddie Murphy, who plays a young homeless man who is thrust into the world of finance through circumstances outside of his understanding, manages to trick experienced financiers – and chaos ensues.
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