Hollywood has produced many finance films over the years, portraying finance professionals of various types succeeding, failing, taking too many risks, and letting their emotions and pride take the lead in their decision-making.
If you want to learn more about the financial world and possibly how to make money from the stock market, but you find textbooks boring, watching several films and movies about stock markets and the world of finance could be about a more entertaining (yet still educational) approach.
Before we look at some must-watch finance movies, it is important to highlight that – by themselves – movies are not going to give you enough knowledge to understand how financial markets work. We recommend you visit here if you are interested in learning more about how to trade shares to make your savings grow in real life. With that said, real-life trading can be quite different from fictional trading displayed in the movies we are going to talk about in this article. Those films are well made, both educational and entertaining for any trader, investor or whoever want to start getting to know the finance and trading world.
Wall Street (1987)
Wall Street is one of the most popular trading related movies ever released and is one that every investor should watch at some point. Released in 1987, this movie shows the excess associated with the financial world, highlighting the risks and dangers of insider trading.
The Big Short (2015)
Released in 2015, won 1 Oscar with 81 nominations in total, The Big Short is about a few isolated groups of traders and investors realizing before everyone else that a housing bubble was ready to explode in the United States – the very same bubble that led to the financial and economic crisis in 2007. This group of men, played by Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt, bet against the US mortgage market. They understand how corrupted the markets are and how the US housing market is about to burst in the next few years. This movie brightens up the confusion among investors who trust in banks and financial institutions.
American Psycho (2000)
Made in 2000, another movie with Christian Bale who plays a wealthy educated investment banker with psychopathic ego. The story of this film enlightens the relationships within finance’s elite class and the reality among other humans. His character symbolizes the narcissistic rich guy who works by day on Wall Street, the man who’s got it all, but inside he is somewhat inhuman and contains only greed and disgust.
Too Big to Fail (2011)
Too Big to Fail was released in 2011 and is about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, also known as the Great Depression and worldwide financial crisis, where the banks created interest-only loans that only became affordable to subprime mortgages borrowers, while average citizens were unable to borrow money, get mortgages and buy houses. The movie shows economic concept that some financial companies or institutions are too large and intertwined in other companies that their bankruptcy would have disastrous systemic consequences on the entire economy.
William Hurt won the Oscar for this film, with other investors and bankers, he is trying to save the U.S. economy.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Directed by the great Martin Scorsese, this epic black comedy film Based on real-life events and the real story of Jordan Belfort. The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie describing the meteoric rise of an American stock-broker, played by Leonardo DiCaprio who scams his clients in very clever and genius ways to make more money, while spending it on material possessions, drugs and prostitutes. The plot takes place in the early 90’s, where Jordan Belfort made millions of dollars through his investments company till he was caught by the FBI in 1999.
Margin Call (2011)
This financial thriller was released in 2011, staring Kevin Spacy. Margin Call depicts how the use of over-leverage led a financial company close to bankruptcy during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. This movie also depicts how these kinds of companies operate and motivate their employees. This film was shot in seventeen days only.
The Smartest Guys in The Room (2005)
Released in 2005, The Smartest Guys in The Room is a documentary about the fall of the powerful Enron Corporation, following the accounting scandal and corporate fraud of the energy company leading to its bankruptcy in less than a year. Enron was a house of cards built by people who were arrogant and led by greed. The company is well known for its rise and inglorious fall.
Inside Job (2010)
A documentary released in 2010, Inside Job analyzes the global financial crisis of 2008 in five different parts, the way changes were adopted in banking practices. The corrupted political system and the way financial experts corruptibly studied economics, led to the sub-prime crisis where millions of people lost their homes and jobs. Other than the U.S, the film also took place in locations around the world – England, Iceland, France, Singapore, and China.
Trading Places (1983)
Released in 1983, this classic comedy, staring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd, is relatively a light on finance. The film earned over $90.4 million in 1983 in America. Towards the end of the movie, it shows how commodity trading works and how traders buy and sell financial products on the trading floor on behalf of clients or the financial company employing them. The main theme of Trading Places is the consequences of wealth and poverty.
Barbarians at the Gates (1993)
Released in 1993, Barbarians at the Gates is all about the concept of leveraged buyout (LBO). The movie describes the buyout of the tobacco and food company RJR Nabisco that took place in 1988, which is one the largest leveraged buyouts in U.S. history. The Self-made multimillionaire and CEO of RJR Nabisco, F. Ross Johnson, boosted the company’s stock price in 1989 when he made it privately owned.