The stock market has always had its fair share of drama. Whether it’s wild stretches of volatility that have gripped the markets over the past year, or new and exciting companies preparing to go public, there’s almost always something to get excited about.
No wonder Hollywood likes to tap Wall Street for inspiration.
There are dozens and dozens of films about finance and Wall Street—some of them have been Academy Award winners (“The Big Short”, for example), and others total bombs (such as “Supercapitalist”).
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.
The best movies about finance and the stock market
10. “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.
9. “Too Big to Fail”
“Too Big To Fail” portrays the 2008 financial crisis. Specifically, the film focusing on the bailout of investment bank Bear Stearns, the demise of its competitor Lehman Brothers, and how defaults on mortgage-backed securities spread the crisis from Wall Street to Main Street.
It also depicts the mechanics and policies that the U.S. Federal Reserve implemented in an attempt to steady the financial markets.
8. “Margin Call”
Another film set during the 2008 financial crisis, “Margin Call” tells the story of several key players at a financial firm who discover they are on the verge of bankruptcy due to their exposure to mortgage-backed securities.
The characters are then forced to take drastic measures in order to control their losses—but we won’t spoil it for you. If you’re interested in what was happening inside financial firms during the crisis, this may be the movie for you.
7. “Rogue Trader”
This film is based on the true story of a derivatives broker named Nick Leeson (portrayed by Ewan McGregor in the film), who caused the bankruptcy of England’s 233-year-old Barings Bank in 1995.
Leeson’s reckless trading and false accounting eventually led to his conviction and imprisonment in Singapore. If you’re into white-collar justice, “Rogue Trader” may be worth a watch.
6. “Barbarians at the Gate”
“Barbarians at the Gate” unfortunately does not feature any actual barbarians.
Instead, it follows the true story of former RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson (portrayed by James Garner), who tries to buy Nabisco through a leveraged buyout. In short, Johnson hopes to take control of the company and make himself wildly rich at the expense of hundreds of the company’s employees.
How does it end? You’ll have to watch to find out.
5. “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.
“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.
3. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
If you’re not familiar with the life of former stockbroker Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), “The Wolf of Wall Street” will get you caught up. The movie follows Belfort, who makes a fortune defrauding investors by selling them worthless penny stocks, all the while being pursued by the FBI and SEC.
This is a movie that’ll leave you howling mad.
2. “Wall Street”
In “Wall Street,” a stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) allows his mentor (Michael Douglas) to lure him into corporate raiding by providing insider information. Unfortunately, the scheming ultimately threatens the stockbroker’s father’s (Martin Sheen) ability to make an honest living.
There was a sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” released in 2010 that revived Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko. It’s Gekko who gave us the famous line “greed is good.”
1. “The Big Short”
Another film centered on the financial crisis in 2008, “The Big Short” tells the story of four groups of investors who saw an opportunity to profit by betting against the real estate market—hence, the name!
The movie is based on the book “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by financial journalist Michael Lewis.
Star in your own story
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