The Best Finance Films Ever

We’ve discussed in another article
that film is an incredibly powerful medium to educate, entertain, and convey
messages in a subtle, understated manner. Most people truly believe that film
is a medium intended purely for producing entertainment value, but these people
are sorely wrong. Finance and film have a complex relationship, after all, it’s
very difficult to make finance appear as an entertaining topic to the general
public, who are more than likely disinterested in finance. Thankfully though,
its not impossible, and is a feat that has been accomplished few times, very
successfully in Hollywood, and other film industries across the globe.

In an earlier article, we delved
into the best finance documentaries ever, however, this article differs
fundamentally from that one, as this will not highlight the films which are
shot in a documentary style, but rather, normal, commercial films, shot with
conventional techniques for a commercial, broad audience. It’s inarguable that
these movies are far more difficult to get right than documentaries (no offense
to documentary filmmakers) but documentaries are not produced solely for
commercial purposes. They usually don’t get theatrical releases, and are meant
for smaller, more niche audiences. Conversely, normal films have pressure from
studios and audiences alike to both satisfy critically, and commercially. This
is why we’ve compiled a list of the best movies that provide a great amount of entertainment
value, but also tell the story of significant events in the world of finance in
an unbiased, tell-all way.


Wall Street

Wall Street was released in 1987,
and was directed by Oliver Stone. It is undoubtedly one of the most iconic
movies of all time, and essentially ushered in an era wherein movies about
finance could be entertaining, gritty, and realistic, all while maintaining a
serious and lifelike tone. Wall Street follows ‘Gordon Gecko’ played by the legendary
Michael Douglas, a narcissistic, tough Wall Street trader, as he shows the
audience just how ruthless, mean, and corrupt the world of finance in Manhattan
can be. Stone paints a beautiful picture of a bustling New York in the 90’s,
the film is simply dripping with style, and packed to the brim with substance.
Douglas’ performance as Gecko earned him an academy award for best actor, while
the character of Gordon Gecko has achieved cult status, with his motto ‘greed
is good’ being one of the most quotable of all time. For giving a peek into how
cutthroat and abrasive the trading world can be, Wall Street earns a spot on
our list.

The Big Short

One of our personal favorite films
of all time, The Big Short is a beautifully shot, directed, and portrayed film
which is truly era, and historically accurate. Focusing on one of the biggest
financial events of all time, the 2008 crash of the US housing market, the film
juggles storylines of four different groups of entities on Wall Street in the
years, months, and days leading up to the crash, and finishes by demonstrating
the aftermath of said event. The film at times chooses to diverge from its
serious and dreary tone and instead take a comedic route, this change is not
jarring and in fact adds to the movie greatly, lowering the audiences guard and
disarming them before hitting them with a truth-bomb about how glum the times
were when this event occurred. The film tells the story in an objective, honest
manner, and does nothing to defend the big banks and institutions that were at
wrong when the event occurred. Additionally, The Big Short recognizes that the audience
may not be familiar with many of the important financial concepts which led up
to the crash, such as CDO’s, ratings, tranches, and many more, so it goes the
extra mile to explain these concepts in small vignettes. For it’s attention to
detail, and combination of education and entertainment, The Big Short is the
second entry on our list.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Describing The Wolf of Wall Street
would be an exercise in futility. A true masterpiece from the mind of legendary
director Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the life of notorious
stockbroker Jordan Belfort, as told in his book with the same name. The
character of Belfort is beautifully adapted from real life to the silver screen
by Leonardo DiCaprio, another Hollywood legend in his own right. The film is somewhat
of an exposé as to the corruption, drugs, and generally unethical practices
which take place on Wall Street, and how it can corrupt an honest trader into a
narcissistic madman who eats, breathes, and sleeps money. In essence this may
sound similar to the aforementioned Wall Street film, but I reassure you that
the both of them differ so greatly in subject matter, content, character,
style, and tone, that they are both must watch films for anyone even vaguely
interested in finance.


Undoubtedly the black sheep on this
list, if you’ve seen Moneyball, you’re probably wondering what this is doing on
a trading website list. However, it’s important to understand that while
Moneyball is a sports film (one of the finest of all time may I add) it also
exhibits many traits of a finance movie, and will surely be an enjoyable and
informative watch for anyone with an interest in trading and finance.
Essentially, it follows the manager of a baseball team, portrayed by Brad Pitt,
as he approaches the trade deadline and fulfills his responsibility of
assembling the best team ever. The movie features a heavy emphasis on trading,
statistics, and detailed analysis, all hallmarks of a great finance movie,
despite the fact that it’s not. Not to mention, it’s an extremely entertaining
watch for absolutely anyone out there, interest in finance aside.

In conclusion, it’s easy to see
that there aren’t too many great films which truly bring together the arts of
trading, finance, and filmmaking all at the same time, but the ones that do are
true masterpieces of the form, and bear watching for anyone. Mostly, these
films are great because they don’t underestimate the audiences intelligence,
and instead lovingly tells their stories with passion and respect to both
finance, and film.

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