Everyone knows about finance: it’s the world of money-grubbing investment bankers and Wall StreetPers, who like to bet on football games and have affairs in expensive restaurants. But as with so much else in life, there is far more to finance than meets the eye. There are plenty of dark side accounts of hedge fund managers and Wall Street analysts, but what if you want to know more about the people behind those billion-dollar wads of cash? The best films about finance explore these characters from all sides: sleazy traders, pampered professionals, self-righteous, and ethical savages. These are the best movies about finance.
Movies about Finance
1. The Wolf of Wall Street
Directed by Jordan Kerner, The Wolf of Wall Street is a powerful examination of greed, manipulation, and the philosophy of Wall Street. The film follows Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a fictionalized version of the real-life founder of investment bank Hek-Tak, as he partners with crooked stockbroker Elliot Spencer (Christian Bale) to launch a brokerage firm. DiCaprio gives a breathtaking performance as Belfort, a man crazy enough to dream of becoming a billionaire. With a wardrobe sourceless of money, expensive cars, and wild partying, DiCaprio has one of the most recognizable riffs in film. The film also features a memorable supporting cast led by Aaron Paul as Belfort’s downstairs neighbor and Tobey Maguire as a con artist trying to start his brokerage firm.
2. Inside Job
Directed by Michael Lee Smith, Inside Job is a powerful expose of the financial crisis. The film follows a group of employees at the Federal Reserve who were found to have overstated the value of their stock options. As a result, they lost their jobs and were imprisoned for fraud. The film uses real-life events to examine capitalism’s connections to corporate malfeasance and government failure. The film also stars Keri Russell as a former financial regulator who broke ranks in her profession to expose the fraud.
3. Boiler Room
Directed by Michael Mann, Boiler Room is a fascinating look at the world of stock trading and Wall Street. The film follows a legendary investment banker character exemplified by his name, played by Al Pacino. Pacino takes on several different roles, from a high-roller in his day to a no-nonsense stockbroker in this film. The film also features a score by Trent Reznor and visual effects by Rob Paulsen and Duncan Jones.
4. The Big Short
The Big Short is a dark comedy directed by Adam McKay about financial risk-takers who decide to bet on the other side of Wall Street rather than the traditional side of justice. The film is based on the true story of how little money John Canham and Michael Burry lost when they tried to buy a bankrupt investment bank in 2006. The film also stars Steve Carell and Annette Bening.
5. Margin Call
Directed by David O. Russell, Margin Call follows Indian financial regulators as they decide how to respond to a market rout with traders accusing them of being unethical and wagering their futures on a single stock. The film also stars Michael Angarano, Julia Stiles, and Don Cheadle.
6. Rogue Trader
Directed by Martin Scorsese, Rogue Trader follows legendary investment banker Asger Jorn (Christian Bale), whose daring trade in Danish stocks of Dansk Metal triggered the Great Depression. The film also stars Sam Worthington, Toby Kebbell, and Sigourney Weaver.
7. The Company Men
Directed by Stuart Bischoff, The Company Men follows a group of private-equity executives who buy poorly performing companies and turn them around so they can be sold to investors. The film also stars J.K. Simmons, Paul Dano, and Amy Adams.
Directed by Xavier Room, Arbitrage follows a group of investment bankers trying to profit from price differences between British and U.S. stocks. The film also stars Michael Douglas, Helena Bonham Carter, and Brenton Thwaites.
9. The Corporation
In The Corporation, a group of executives at a large insurance company is revealed to be nothing but ruthless thieves and con-artists. The film also stars Ryan Gosling, Gailard Horsley, and Paul Sorvino.
These are the best movies about finance. It is easy to forget that there are many other areas of life where financial success does not necessarily mean happiness. The people in these films understand this, and they work hard to find ways to make their lives better.