Top 10 Movies About Money
There’s something inherently dramatic about money that makes it uniquely suited for the big screen. It could be the dramatic rise and fall of the stock market. It could be our strong desire to predict what the markets will do, only to be surprised once again. Or it could be the fact that money is everywhere.
Everyone is impacted by it. We’re all working toward our next paycheck, to buy a car, buy a house, start a family, so it’s no wonder that Hollywood has cashed in on the drama, developing countless movies about making money.
Great money movies offer insight into the financial industry while also creating a compelling, captivating, and entertaining story. From Wall Street to The Big Short, filmmakers have mastered the art of making movies about making money. If you’re looking for good movies about money, we’ve got you covered. Here are our 10 top money movies.
1. Wall Street
If you’ve heard the phrase “Greed is good,” you can thank Wall Street, which is often called one of the most influential movies about making money. The 1987 film was directed by Oliver Stone and stars Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko a ruthless corporate raider . Charlie Sheen plays Bud Fox, a young stockbroker with big ambitions who idolizes Gekko.
The film epitomizes the height of 1980s Wall Street greed and has played a significant role in shaping the way people view the financial industry. Even after three decades, the film remains one of the most recognizable portrayals of Wall Street. The film ultimately won Michael Douglas an Oscar for his iconic portrayal of Gordon Gekko.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
This 2013 film, directed by Martin Scorsese, is based on Jordan Belfort’s autobiography of the same name. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Belfort as the film details his rise as a stockbroker from penny stocks to IPOs, and then follows the corruption and crime that leads to his downfall.
The financial comedy is indulgent, excessive, and at times vulgar, but the exuberant performances from the cast make it a compelling and entertaining film.
Based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis, the 2011 film tells the story of how Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletics’ general manager, played by Brad Pitt, took Major League Baseball by storm. Beane revolutionized the sport by ignoring conventional wisdom and scouting players on a budget using a data analytics strategy that emphasizes players who may be boring but will yield results.
One of Beane’s best-known theories is that big-name, home-run sluggers were an overvalued asset while hitters with high on-base percentages were undervalued, and would ultimately get your team more runs. The film offers insight into value investing and budgeting.
4. The Big Short
This film, also based on a book by Michael Lewis, was released in 2015 and dives into the nitty-gritty of the 2008 financial crisis. Director Adam McKay and a bevy of talented actors are able to take complex financial concepts like credit default swaps and collateralized debt swaps and turn them into easy-to-understand movie magic.
The film breaks the fourth wall to explain these concepts with a few cameo appearances by celebrities including Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain. The Big Short masterfully weaves finance and drama into a compelling film that engages audiences and effectively illustrates how subprime mortgages led to the most recent financial crisis.
5. Margin Call
Released in 2011, Margin Call follows key individuals at an unnamed investment bank over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. It’s a fictionalized account detailing what might have happened on the eve of a financial disaster.
Zachary Quinto plays a young risk analyst who, after his boss is laid off, dives into his work and discovers an unsettling reality. He alerts his superiors and sets off a night-long series of meetings, where the firm’s higher-ups decide what the next steps will be.
6. Boiler Room
While developing Boiler Room, Ben Younger (writer/director) drew on his own experiences working at a brokerage firm. The 2000 film is, in part, inspired by the interviews he completed while working on Wall Street, as well as the stories he heard about Stratton Oakmont, the firm run by Jordan Belfort which was featured in The Wolf of Wall Street. Boiler Room tells the story of a young trainee who works at a small brokerage firm. He observes some questionable activities at the firm and he eventually helps the FBI take down his employers.
The film details a pump and dump scam in which the stock held by an investor or group of investors is promoted and then sold as soon as the stock prices increase as a result of their endorsement. Boiler Room is a clear warning to investors that they should favor transparent companies that stick to the fundamentals. And when it comes to investing—as with many things—if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
7. Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me If You Can is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, a con artist who was employed as a doctor, lawyer, and copilot all before turning 21. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Abagnale, a talented forger.
His check fraud netted him millions of dollars in stolen funds. As Abagnale’s check fraud comes to light, FBI agent Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks, makes it his mission to track him down.
8. The Pursuit of Happyness
Also based on a true story, The Pursuit of Happyness stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman trying to make ends meet and care for his 5-year-old son. Gardner lands an ultra-competitive internship in a stockbroker training program.
But earning no salary comes at a cost; Gardner and his son are evicted from their apartment. They endure many hardships, including living in shelters as Gardner pursues a career as a stockbroker, hoping to improve his and his son’s lives. Ultimately, Gardner overcomes the obstacles against him and goes on to become a successful stockbroker.
9. Trading Places
This 1983 comedy classic stars Dan Aykroyd as Louis, a rich man who works at a commodity brokerage firm, and Eddie Murphy as Billy, a homeless street hustler. The Duke brothers—two successful commodities brokers who own the firm that employs Louis—make a bet based on their opposing views about the “nature versus nurture” debate and proceed to conduct an experiment.
They manipulate a chance encounter between their employee, Louis, and Billy, that affects both of their lives. But when Billy overhears the details of the plan, he and Louis work together to bring the commodities brokers down. By uncovering the brothers’ plan for insider trading, Billy and Louis use the information against the pair, ultimately bankrupting them, while at the same time making money for themselves.
10. The Company Men
The Company Men is a 2010 movie that follows the story of three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing at a major company. The CEO of the company is reducing the workforce of a previously successful shipping company while benefiting from the resulting increase in stock value.
Among those fired is Bobby Walker, played by Ben Affleck. The loss of his job leaves him taking manual labor jobs from his brother-in-law, and selling his house. Another victim of the downsizing is Phil Woodward, played by Chris Cooper. He struggles to find a new job and to come to terms with his unemployment.
Gene McClary, played by Tommy Lee Jones, was second in command at the company and also loses his job. However, even though McClary no longer works at the shipping company, he still benefits from the rising stock prices. In an attempt to alleviate his guilt, he starts his own company and hires many of the people fired by his old employer.
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