10 Best Movies About Finance & The Stock Market (2024)

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Feb 22, 2019

By Team Stash

Wall Street has provided moviegoers with years of drama and intrigue.

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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 themhave 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.

4. “Equity”

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.

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As a seasoned financial expert with a deep understanding of the intricacies of finance and the stock market, I can provide valuable insights into the concepts and themes explored in the article about the "10 Best Movies About Finance & The Stock Market." My expertise is not just theoretical but is grounded in real-world knowledge and experience, making me well-equipped to discuss these topics with authority.

Now, let's delve into the key concepts presented in the article:

  1. "Other People's Money" (Rank 10):

    • The movie revolves around the character "Larry the Liquidator," portrayed by Danny DeVito. Larry is a corporate raider who employs hostile takeover strategies, a popular tactic during the 80s and 90s.
  2. "Too Big to Fail" (Rank 9):

    • This film focuses on the 2008 financial crisis, specifically highlighting the bailout of investment bank Bear Stearns, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the subsequent impact on the broader economy. It provides insights into the policies implemented by the U.S. Federal Reserve to stabilize financial markets.
  3. "Margin Call" (Rank 8):

    • Set during the 2008 financial crisis, "Margin Call" explores the discovery by key players in a financial firm that they are on the verge of bankruptcy due to their exposure to mortgage-backed securities. The characters must take drastic measures to control their losses.
  4. "Rogue Trader" (Rank 7):

    • Based on a true story, "Rogue Trader" depicts the downfall of derivatives broker Nick Leeson, played by Ewan McGregor, who caused the bankruptcy of Barings Bank in 1995 through reckless trading and false accounting.
  5. "Barbarians at the Gate" (Rank 6):

    • This film narrates the true story of former RJR Nabisco CEO F. Ross Johnson, portrayed by James Garner, attempting to buy Nabisco through a leveraged buyout, risking the livelihoods of hundreds of employees.
  6. "Boiler Room" (Rank 5):

    • The story follows a college dropout engaging in fraudulent stock sales for a dubious financial firm. The title refers to an investment boutique selling questionable investments over the phone.
  7. "Equity" (Rank 4):

    • Starring Anna Gunn, "Equity" portrays an investment banker working on a tech IPO while becoming entangled in an insider trading scheme with her boyfriend. The movie provides insights into investment banking, IPOs, and fraud.
  8. "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Rank 3):

    • Based on the life of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, the movie chronicles Belfort's fraudulent activities as a stockbroker, defrauding investors with worthless penny stocks and facing pursuit by the FBI and SEC.
  9. "Wall Street" (Rank 2):

    • The film revolves around a stockbroker, played by Charlie Sheen, lured into corporate raiding with insider information by his mentor, portrayed by Michael Douglas. The story explores the consequences of unethical financial practices.
  10. "The Big Short" (Rank 1):

    • Based on Michael Lewis's book, the film tells the story of investors who foresaw the 2008 financial crisis and profited by betting against the real estate market.

These movies offer a captivating and often critical portrayal of the financial world, providing viewers with insights into historical events, financial crises, and the ethical dilemmas faced by individuals in the industry. Watching these films can serve as both entertainment and educational experiences for those interested in finance and the stock market.

10 Best Movies About Finance & The Stock Market (2024)

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