Watch These 10 Movies For Insights Into the World of Finance With a Dash of Entertainment

Watch These 10 Movies For Insights Into the World of Finance With a Dash of Entertainment
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) | Getty Images | Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

These movies can help you understand Wall Street and finance

General view of the exterior of the Blockbuster store in New York | Getty Images | Photo by Andrew H. Walker
General view of the exterior of the Blockbuster store in New York | Getty Images | Photo by Andrew H. Walker

Also Read: Taco Bell Worker Exposes Customer's DoorDash Scheme, Ignites Online Conversation

 

The captivating world of finance can also turn out to be confusing for those who aren't well-versed in jargon and complex dealings. That's where films can break things down for audiences, by combining entertainment with profound insights into the enigmatic world of money and power. From iconic classics to gripping portrayals of real-life financial scandals, each movie unravels a unique facet of Wall Street and corporate corridors. Join us as we explore these cinematic masterpieces, delving into the motivations, machinations, and moral dilemmas that shape the lives of bankers, traders, and corporate titans.

"Wall Street" (1987): A must-watch finance film

People working on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Getty Images | Photo by Bill Foley
People working on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Getty Images | Photo by Bill Foley

 

Oliver Stone's timeless "Wall Street" lef with countless college graduates echoing the iconic phrase, "Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel," on their way to Series 7 exams. Crafted originally to expose the excesses and hedonism intertwined with finance, "Wall Street" continues to exert a magnetic pull, attracting aspiring traders, brokers, analysts, and bankers, even three decades after its creation.

Although the movie serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of insider trading, it's hard to resist the allure of stepping into the shoes of characters like Bud Fox or the infamous Gordon Gekko, if only for a moment. As Gekko himself famously declared, "Greed is good."

Also Read: From Shawarmas to Pizza: Keith Lee's Toronto Food Reviews Go Viral

"The Big Short" (2015): Unmasking the 2008 financial crash

Brad Pitt attends
Brad Pitt attends "The Big Short" New York premiere at Ziegfeld Theater | Getty Images | Photo by Michael Stewart

Also Read: Toronto Restaurant Workers Thrilled With $500 Tips Each From Food Critic Keith Lee

 

Adapted from Michael Lewis's nonfiction book, "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine," this film tracks the journey of astute traders who were ahead of the curve and identified the housing crisis that triggered the 2007-2008 financial crash. What sets this movie apart is its clever approach to demystifying complex financial instruments. For instance, it enlists Selena Gomez to elucidate synthetic CDOs at a poker table and Margot Robbie to break down mortgage-backed bonds.

"Margin Call" (2011): Capturing the boardroom drama

Actors Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Demi Moore, Director J.C. Chandor, actors Simon Baker and Stanley Tucci attend
"Margin Call" Premiere at the Eccles Center Theatre during the 2011 Sundance Film Festival | Getty Images | Photo by George Pimentel

 

Regarded as one of the most financially accurate films on this list, "Margin Call" unfolds within a tight 24-hour timeframe, offering a gripping glimpse into the life of a Wall Street firm teetering on the edge of catastrophe. The movie makes no effort to conceal its disdain for the reckless gambles undertaken by major banks in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. It sheds light on the trading of intricate derivative instruments, which even the investment banks themselves struggled to fully comprehend. A poignant moment within the film features two central characters discussing the impending disaster that looms not just over their firm but also over the unsuspecting financial community of companies and investors at large. Amidst it all, a janitor stands among them, completely unaware of the impending turmoil.

"Boiler Room" (2000): A glimpse into financial deception

Giovanni Ribisi talking with a man in a scene from the film 'Boiler Room', 2000 | Getty Images | Photo by New Line Cinema
Giovanni Ribisi talking with a man in a scene from the film 'Boiler Room', 2000 | Getty Images | Photo by New Line Cinema

 

"Boiler Room" delves into the grim underbelly of the financial industry by shedding light on the pump-and-dump scheme. This term encapsulates the unethical practices of firms that artificially inflate the price of a security through deceptive, often false statements. Subsequently, they offload their holdings of the security, leaving unsuspecting investors with shares that have rapidly depreciated. Although "Boiler Room" is a work of fiction, the existence of pump-and-dump operations is all too real, along with the financial havoc they wreak on their victims. This finance film serves as a cautionary tale for budding investors, emphasizing the importance of sticking to transparent, reputable companies and basing investment decisions on solid fundamentals.

"The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013): A rollercoaster ride through an elaborate scam

Official Academy Members screening of 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' at the Academy Theater | Getty Images | Photo by Cindy Ord
Official Academy Members screening of 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' at the Academy Theater | Getty Images | Photo by Cindy Ord

 

Directed by Martin Scorsese, this biographical film unravels the captivating tale of Jordan Belfort, a notorious stock market swindler. The movie based on true events, features stellar performances by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. "The Wolf of Wall Street" delves into the sordid history of Stratton Oakmont, an over-the-counter brokerage firm infamous for its involvement in pump-and-dump schemes. These illicit activities played a role in catapulting the initial public offerings (IPOs) of several major public companies during the late 1980s and 1990s.

"Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" (2005): Breaking down corporate deceit

Peter Elkin, Bethany McLean and director Alex Gibney attend the premiere of
Peter Elkin, Bethany McLean and director Alex Gibney attend the premiere of "Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room" | Getty Images | Photo by Mark Mainz

 

Despite unfolding over two decades ago, the documentary's narrative continues to astonish. Adapted from the best-selling book of the same name, it relies on an extensive trove of archival footage, congressional testimonies, and interviews with Enron executive Mike Muckleroy as well as whistle-blower Sherron Watkins. The film contends that Enron, far from being a reputable energy corporation gone astray, was essentially a long-running con game. Among its revelations, the documentary exposes how the California energy crisis of 2001 was a contrived scheme orchestrated by Enron traders who manipulated plant closures to inflate electricity prices, ultimately crippling the state's energy industry.

"Rogue Trader" (1999): Unveiling the collapse of Barings Bank

Jerry Hall greets Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger at the world premiere of 'Rogue Trader' | Getty Images | Photo by  Dave Benett
Jerry Hall greets Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger at the world premiere of 'Rogue Trader' | Getty Images | Photo by Dave Benett

 

This film recounts the actual events surrounding Nick Leeson, a trader whose actions single-handedly drove Barings Bank, one of the world's oldest merchant banks, into insolvency. Once hailed as a rising star on the Singapore trading floor, Leeson's meteoric ascent followed an equally spectacular fall from grace. To conceal staggering losses, he ingeniously covered them up with undisclosed accounts. Ultimately, his ill-fated gamble, involving a short straddle position on the Nikkei, culminated in a catastrophic outcome. Beyond its entertainment value, the movie offers lessons in risk management and the importance of financial oversight.

"Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992): Into the cut-throat competition among salesmen

Al Pacino on the set of Glengarry Glen Ross, | Getty Images | Photo by New Line Cinema
Al Pacino on the set of Glengarry Glen Ross, | Getty Images | Photo by New Line Cinema

 

This cinematic adaptation of David Mamet's renowned play delves into the lives of a beleaguered team of real estate salesmen, their ethical values worn thin by years of toil for an unscrupulous company. The film exposes the shady tactics that are often employed by those selling financial products, emphasizing the unrelenting pressure applied by higher-ups to meet targets. While the ensemble cast delivered stellar performances, Alec Baldwin's electrifying motivational speech stole the spotlight, and shed light on both the best and worst facets of the financial industry.

American Psycho" (2000): Peering into the Dark Abyss of Finance

Christian Bale at pay phone in a scene from the film 'American Psycho', 2000 | Getty Images | Photo by Lion's Gate
Christian Bale at pay phone in a scene from the film 'American Psycho', 2000 | Getty Images | Photo by Lion's Gate

 

This provocative cinematic rendition of Bret Easton Ellis's acclaimed novel unfolds in the financial realm, with Christian Bale portraying a wealthy investment banker concealing a sinister and lethal identity. Though finance takes a backseat in the plot, "American Psycho" offers a glimpse into the surreal existence of the financial elite, revealing their profound detachment from the real world.

"Barbarians at the Gate" (1993): The LBO Spectacle

Bryan Burrough, co-author of BARBARIANS AT THE GATE, taking air, in area of World Financial Ctr | Getty Images | Photo by Cynthia Johnson
Bryan Burrough, co-author of BARBARIANS AT THE GATE, taking air, in area of World Financial Ctr | Getty Images | Photo by Cynthia Johnson

 

Centered on the leveraged buyout (LBO) of RJR Nabisco, this 1993 TV movie draws inspiration from Bryan Burrough and John Helyar's 1989 book of the same name. While the film takes some creative liberties, it exposes the shocking blend of incompetence and greed embodied by Nabisco's CEO F. Ross Johnson. Behind-the-scenes negotiations and skullduggery during this infamous LBO provide an eye-opening view of corporate maneuvring.

More from MARKETREALIST

Vietnamese Real Estate Queen Truong My Lan Sentenced to Death in $12.5 Billion Fraud Case

On Video Server Says She Charged Customers For DIY Lemonade, Then Admits She Lied For Fun

Share this article:  These 10 Movies Use Satire and Drama to Show Grim Realities of Corporate Corridors