In 2021, Hollywood executives announced they were making a film on the Reddit GameStop short squeeze. What would interest Hollywood bigshots in such a niche finance topic?
Well, finance movies have a large fan following. Martin Scorcese’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned millions in profit. It also received nominations at the Oscars.
Personal finance as a subject is vast and full of jargon. The top finance movies, however, make the subject accessible to people. While these movies often exaggerate the lavish lifestyles of the rich, they also explore the emotional connection we share with money. These movies may be entertaining, informational, tragic, or a cautionary tale.
Below is a curated list of the top finance movies you can watch to increase your knowledge of personal finance:
The Big Short
Based on Michael Lewis’ book of the same name, The Big Short follows the life of traders as they become aware of the mortgage crisis that fueled the 2008 financial crisis. It simplifies financial jargon and tops the best finance movies list for superb writing and performance.
Oliver Stone’s Wall Street is a classic today. In many ways, it was the predecessor for Scorcese’s Wolf of Wall Street. Both movies showed the hedonism of the financial world. Both warn their viewers against excessive greed.
Bud Fox, an ambitious stockbroker, wants to be rich. He finds a mentor – Gordon Gekko. Gordon teaches Bud Fox that the world never stops making money. The movie provides insider information on the stock market and the money mindset.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Scorcese tells the story of Jordan Belfort. Belfort was an ambitious stockbroker that scammed his clients into buying fraudulent stocks. The movie is famous for its portrayal of the extravagant lifestyle of Wall Street brokers. Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio give stellar performances throughout the film.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a tale of warning. It talks about the loopholes in the stock market and how stockbrokers exploit their clients.
Moneyball tells the story of Billy Beane as he assembles a baseball team. However, the film is not a sports drama. Beane has a tight budget: he cannot afford expensive players. He collaborates with Peter Brand, a Yale graduate, to perform a cost-benefit analysis of his players.
The movie has another terrific Jonah Hill performance. It may revolve around sports, but it is a movie on intuition.
Parasite is not what you expect on a list of finance-related movies. It tells the story of a poor Korean family and the measures they take to survive in a capitalistic world. However, it has some of the finest perspectives on the rich-poor divide. The director Bong Joon-ho uses subtle frames to zoom in on the divide and class rage.
Margin Call provides another perspective on the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. It takes place within 24 hours in an investment firm before the financial disaster. The thriller begins with people getting fired from an unnamed investment firm. Eric Dale, also fired, hands over his work to Peter Sullivan. Sullivan finds the factors leading up to the 2008 crisis – subprime mortgage.
The film is a brilliant take on the greed of corporations. Margin Call received a nomination at the Oscars for its screenplay.
Boiler Room talks about the ‘pump and dump’ scene in finance. Seth Davis, a college dropout, joins an investment firm. However, he succumbs to the corruption and greed of firms and goes on to scam innocent clients.
The film is a reminder that not all investment firms are honest with their clients. It explains the cost of success and exposes the amoral nature of brokerage firms.
Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is a love story, but it manages to shed light on the differences between the nouveau riche and old money. It expands on the impact that money has on romantic and familial relationships. The movie also provides insight into the gender politics associated with wealth.
Astrid’s husband leaves her because she earns more than him. Rachel is not an acceptable daughter-in-law because she does not have generational wealth.
Sameer Hanchate’s 2006 movie Gafla was one of the first takes on the Harshad Mehta story. It documented the loss of the Indians during the 1992 market scam. The story follows the journey of Subodh, a middle-class man, through the eyes of people who know him.
Subodh falls prey to the 1992 scam and loses four hundred crores. Gafla’s take is different from Scam 1992. It focuses more on the emotional loss of one man rather than the journey of Harshad Mehta himself.
Starring actors like Saif Ali Khan and Radhika Apte, Bazaar revolves around the ambitious stock broker Rizwan Ahmed. Ahmed moves to Mumbai from Allahabad and starts working for the trader Shakun Kothari. Bazaar is a cautionary tale about trading professionals. It teaches you to do your homework before trading.
Bipasha Basu stars as Nishigandha in this film about corporate rivalry. Nishigandha is an ambitious woman in corporate. However, she gets caught in the rivalry between two corporations. The film released in 2006, and has performances by industry stalwarts like Rajat Kapoor.
The best finance movies teach you about finance in an unconventional way. They track the personal side of finance and people’s relationship with wealth. A meditation on money and wealth, finance movies force you to rethink.
These films simplify the subject of personal finance and allow you to interact with multiple perspectives.