Movies about finance, banks, stock market, scams and Wall Street.by Natasha266 | created - 04 May 2011 | updated - 31 May 2017 | Public
If you're about to start a watching-marathon in this category then you should start with "Wall Street (1987)." It's totally up to you what you watch next, but make sure you to watch "Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)" at some point.
Feel free to intersperse your watching with documentaries I listed from position #23 onwards. These will keep your feet firm on the ground i.e. see for yourself how greedy corporations & banks can have real-life destructive repercussions. Let's hope that given the choice, the next generation will not screw the world over just for a few more dollars! Last bubble bust was in 2008.
My advice would be to sort my list by 'Date Added.' This way you will see the most recent addition to my list. Thank you, enjoy!
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1. Wall Street (1987)
R | 126 min | Crime, Drama
A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
Votes: 132,047 | Gross: $43.85M
One name, Gordon Gekko (one of Michael Douglas' finest acting)! A great movie from start to finish. A classic and a must-see! The intro itself is a gem: great music accompanying commuter scenes in New York! I doubt Oliver Stone knew back then how cult this movie would become, and how it would inspire generations to find stockmarket jobs. No wonder we're screwed for generations to come, especially in the US and UK. Always remember "Blue Horseshoe loves Anacott Steel."
Bonus: You get to see the Sheen family: young Charlie Sheen (playing Bud Fox) and his dad (Martin Sheen) who is an airplane engineer.
2. Boiler Room (2000)
R | 120 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
A college dropout, attempting to win back his father's high standards he gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success, but the job might not be as legitimate as it once appeared to be.
Votes: 45,707 | Gross: $16.94M
Definitely an eye opener! Whilst Wall Street (1987) inadvertently glorified stockmarket get-rich schemes (and the reason why many applied for Trading/IB positions), Boiler Room shows you the dirty side of this world, i.e. how stockmarket scammers operate for quite a long time before SEC's radar finds them. But by then the harm has already been done! After watching this movie, you will know exactly what to tell someone who cold calls you about great investment opportunities! Boiler Room scams are real and sadly still active! If you're an old pensioner, you better watch out because they already bought your details.
3. A Good Year (2006)
PG-13 | 117 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A British investment broker inherits his uncle's chateau and vineyard in Provence, where he spent much of his childhood. He discovers a new laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold.
Votes: 80,804 | Gross: $7.46M
It's quite rare to see a movie depicting part of London's financial district (the Gherkin) and for that reason I immediately liked it. Maybe next time they will film around Mayfair (hedge funds) and Canary Wharf (big multinational banks). The "succulent" trading scenes in this movie are sparse but of good quality and intensity. To say that this is a finance movie is not totally accurate, as a majority share of its runtime was allocated to lovely French countryside, where an interesting romance develops. A good watch if you're a couple! ;)
4. Margin Call (2011)
R | 107 min | Drama, Thriller
Follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis.
Votes: 104,953 | Gross: $5.35M
Made me think of Lehman's collapse but I doubt the movie is about that. More likely, it's about how Goldman Sachs was knowingly getting rid of toxic asset by convincing its top clients to buy them (there was a court case on that matter, please google it). The film has a good steady pace. You can literally feel the tension growing thicker as the film progresses. I've rarely experience that when watching movies. I remember watching the intro of Gladiator and feeling cold even though I was in a warm room.
However, this movie is not about crazy traders screaming at the top of their lungs. So it's not your stereotypical Wall Street movie but this is not a bad thing as it offers plenty of something else to keep you glued to the screen.
5. Rogue Trader (1999)
R | 101 min | Crime, Drama, History
The story of Nick Leeson, an ambitious investment broker who singlehandedly bankrupted one of the oldest and most important banks in Britain.
Given that in 1999 we had such blockbusters as The Matrix, I felt that this movie was not well made. Watching it felt like watching an old Viet Cong movie. There was only one person who knew how to act the whole time, guess who? Anyway if you want to know how Baring went into bankruptcy, then this is a must see. And given what happened in 2008 with Lehman, I think we need an international law which states that bankers should never be allowed to self-regulate. Any head of a bank or central bank who advocates "cutting of red tape" and a "code of self-conduct" (rather than real laws, punishment and jail for corrupt bankers) should be viewed with great suspicion. He or she has evil plans in mind. He or she only wants to help his cronies get richer by screwing us and the economy.
After filing for bankruptcy Baring was acquired by ING for £1 and you can open an account with them for as little as a quid! :)
6. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
PG-13 | 133 min | Drama
Now out of prison but still disgraced by his peers, Gordon Gekko works his future son-in-law, an idealistic stock broker, when he sees an opportunity to take down a Wall Street enemy and rebuild his empire.
Votes: 92,000 | Gross: $52.47M
It was an unworthy sequel, completely flat and rancid. It didn't even re-tell the 2007-2008 bubble collapse that well. What a waste! Also, Shia completely ruined it for me. Why anyone would employ this broccoli-hair Transformer clown in a serious movie like Wall Street is completely beyond me! This movie is about deceit but more crucially, revenge. There's a twist at the end. I'll say no more, enjoy!
7. The Big Short (2015)
R | 130 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama
In 2006-7 a group of investors bet against the US mortgage market. In their research they discover how flawed and corrupt the market is.
Votes: 292,539 | Gross: $70.26M
Movie which retells the great 2008 mortgage backed securities scam but told from the angle of those who knew this would happen. Usually when you know something epically bad will happen, you just short the losers - hence the title! This is an excellent movie. A superb cast of credible cast of actors who invested themselves 100% in their role. I watched it twice, on the same day!
8. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
R | 180 min | Biography, Comedy, Crime
Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
Votes: 991,615 | Gross: $116.90M
Not sure what to make of this long awaited movie with charming Di Caprio in it. Question is, am I into glamourising the things people do when they have lots of money? No! This movie felt like watching a long Wall-Street version of American Pie.
The story is that of a man who starts from nothing, loses his job but finds a new one in trading penny stocks. He then starts his own business and ends up becoming filthy rich but sadly through boiler-room type scams. This movie also shows how he laundered his money in Switzerland and all the partying and mega parties, even when he was being investigated.
9. Limitless (I) (2011)
PG-13 | 105 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
With the help of a mysterious pill that enables the user to access one hundred percent of his brain abilities, a struggling writer becomes a financial wizard, but it also puts him in a new world with lots of dangers.
Votes: 479,477 | Gross: $79.25M
Truthfully I felt this movie hinged on one thing only: NZT drug. But it does transition quickly into money making using the stockmarket, so it made it in my list. Thanks to whoever pestered me to put it on here.
From the movie, you don't really understand what he is doing to make all that money, your eyes and ears are just pumped with sound and visual effects to gloss over this fact. To me this is poor. This is shallow. This is probably because the writers and producers of this movie don't really understand what happens in the finance world. If these same writers didn't use stock trading as a means to help the main actor make money, then am sure they would have picked something else such as "the guy cracks the lottery system" or "the guy invents a new gadget." So the main hinge in this story is the use of NZT and the money making scenes could have been anything. It so happens here that they used the stockmarket.
10. Assault on Wall Street (2013)
R | 99 min | Action, Crime, Thriller
Jim, an average New Yorker, lives with a sick but loving wife. Suddenly, everything changes when the economy crashes and causes him to lose everything. Filled with anger and rage, Jim goes to seek revenge for the life taken from him.
If nobody in the real world is willing to do anything about the banks who conned our world, then at least people in movies are! I think at this point, I should make clear that I don't have an axe to grind against traditional banking, it's the casino gambling Investment Bankers who are to blame for what's wrong. They are greedy and love gambling with other people's money (even if that money is a pension fund!). Bankers wanted to skip checks, quick money and corrupted governments so all this could happen. Well, when the party is over someone has to pay the bill. If it's not them, then ... !
11. Too Big to Fail (2011 TV Movie)
TV-MA | 99 min | Biography, Drama, History
Chronicles the financial meltdown of 2008 and centers on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
HBO docu-drama which recounts the Sep 2008 financial collapse but more on the stressful moments that went on behind the scenes. (I didn't learn much from it because I saw the BBC three-part documentaries first).
12. Deception (I) (2008)
R | 107 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery
An accountant is introduced to a mysterious sex club known as The List by his lawyer friend. But in this new world, he soon becomes the prime suspect in a woman's disappearance and a multi-million dollar heist.
Votes: 35,792 | Gross: $4.60M
Here's one for the accountants or ACCA students. This movie delves quickly into coherced accounting fraud. I can't say more as this would be a true spoiler. Two great actors. A good thriller from start to finish!
13. The Accountant (2016)
R | 128 min | Action, Crime, Drama
As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities, and the body count starts to rise.
Votes: 222,421 | Gross: $86.26M
Uncooking the books! TBC.
14. Money Monster (2016)
R | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller
Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes them and their crew as hostage.
Votes: 83,511 | Gross: $41.01M
Given Sony also made massive flop Ghostbusters, I wasn't sure about listing this here. Pending confirmation of what this is all about, I will leave the title here. The main character feels like that crazy energetic Wall Street news presenter, Jim Cramer.
15. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
PG-13 | 141 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
A seasoned FBI agent pursues Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars' worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor.
Votes: 686,425 | Gross: $164.62M
A movie about check (cheque) scams. Leonardo DiCaprio is a con man who is gifted with the ability to create fake checks (with increasing sophistication) and uses his charms to cash them. Well, that's straight from the social engineering hacking book, isn't it?
16. Matchstick Men (2003)
PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama
A phobic con artist and his protégé are on the verge of pulling off a lucrative swindle when the former's teenage daughter arrives unexpectedly.
Votes: 116,307 | Gross: $36.91M
A great con movie - father, daughter and associate. Is that right? ;) There's a brilliant twist. Keep your eyes peeled. And for God's sake... "Make sure the person you're conning isn't conning you!"
17. Pi (1998)
R | 84 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery
A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.
Votes: 158,238 | Gross: $3.22M
Thanks to @Cary Ferguson for his suggestion. I saw this movie a long time ago, when I was still at university and someone rented it from Blockbuster. I believe the entire movie is shot in black & white but don't feel discouraged about this because it's a good black & white, with soft analogue grainy noise. Actually you might even ask yourself why your eyes were less tired watching this than a full colour movie of same length.
The plot: A reclusive mathematical genius tries to predict how securities fluctuates on the stock market by building a system-on-chip (SoC). Besides (thuggish) companies who are after his system, insanity is also stalking him. If you want to remain in the theme and mood of this movie then try: "Beautiful Mind (2001)."
18. The Other Guys (2010)
PG-13 | 107 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
Two mismatched New York City detectives seize an opportunity to step up like the city's top cops, whom they idolize, only things don't quite go as planned.
Votes: 215,804 | Gross: $119.22M
Brilliant cop comedy which randomly involves tracking down a corrupt financier played by comedian Steve Coogan. Makes fun of how lousy the SEC is. Always slow to react and never prevented a single financial fraud before it happened. Some might say that their hands are tied because the US government deliberately cuts their funds and decreases their power to investigate and act. Actually that makes a lot of sense!
This movie is more comedy than finance or cop. The end credit animation is a must-see and probably the reason why this movie is listed here.
19. The Bank (2001)
Not Rated | 104 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller
The Bank is a thriller about banking, corruption and alchemy.
Listing it here whilst i get my hands on a copy. More description soon...
20. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Drama, Thriller
Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.
Votes: 111,963 | Gross: $50.58M
Now that was a disappointment. Turns out to be a spy movie. I love Chris Pine and he should choose his movies more carefully. Watching Keira Knightley felt really awkward. She was like a stiff mannequin robot. The way she slipped herself into Jack Ryan's secret mission was so poorly executed. The script itself was like a poor-man's Mission Impossible, except "Oh no, let's get on Tasha's list of Finance Movies by mixing terrorists and short-selling." I'm of course kidding about the Tasha bit. Watch it if you need to break the routine with an action movie.
21. Working Girl (1988)
R | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.
Votes: 46,667 | Gross: $64.00M
Not a high-octane Wall Street movie but one about mergers & acquisition (M&A). The main actress seemed very limp and boring but I guess this was her role. I wanted to watch Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in the context of a financial movie. Predictable ending.
22. Other People's Money (1991)
R | 103 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A corporate raider threatens a hostile take-over of a "mom and pop" company. The patriarch of the company enlists the help of his wife's daughter, who is a lawyer, to try and protect the ... See full summary »
Votes: 7,228 | Gross: $25.68M
Just saw a short clip in BBC's "The Super Rich And Us." It's on my to watch list.
23. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Not Rated | 110 min | Documentary
A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.
Great documentary on how Enron was basically a CHEAT machine (California power black outs and deliberate electricity price hikes to make profits) and more shockingly, how they were helped by government (Bush administration, surprised?) and accounting firm Arthur Andersen. It should make you sick and hope that heads of Enron and government people involved are now rotting in jail. Are they?
24. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
R | 127 min | Documentary, Crime, News
An examination of the social costs of corporate interests pursuing profits at the expense of the public good.
Votes: 39,141 | Gross: $14.36M
Watching this made me wonder what's the point of living if the system is so corrupt? But that's a recurring theme with Michael Moore documentaries. He shows you the truth but with lots of emotional violin string moments.
Some friends told me to be weary of Moore's documentaries because he chooses sequences to fit his bias and create drama. This is unlike say a BBC documentary where they show you (nearly) everything, no over-the-top emotional pinch and it's up to you to draw a conclusion. (However BBC is known to promote British interest in whatever it undertakes. It is a state owned institution but this doesn't mean that they bow to those in power. They regularly criticise them and rich corporations like any good independent news channel should).
25. Wall Street Warriors (2006– )
An HD documentary series examining the extreme power and intense competition that defines Wall Street, seen through the eyes of those who thrive there.
Tv-Series depicting the life of traders, brokers, deal makers and fund managers who work in and around Wall Street. Each episode is about 23 minutes in length. It lacks depth but it's alright given what else is out there.
I've taken the view that American producers should pair up with a British critique if they don't want to be portrayed as shallow or missing the point. For instance, in Season 1, there's the pretty lady with terrible taste in sofa upholstery. What's the value of showing us long sensuous scenes of her sitting or walking around? Is she a paid actress, so they felt they needed to get their money's worth out of it? Where's the line between a serious series about Wall Street people and a soft ero-style show? To me this is where a documentary or tv-show loses the plot and steps into pure manure territory.
26. Inside Job (2010)
PG-13 | 109 min | Documentary, Crime
Takes a closer look at what brought about the 2008 financial meltdown.
Votes: 64,166 | Gross: $4.31M
Brilliant and excellent re-telling of the 2008 financial collapse. It is narrated by Jason Bourne (i mean Matt Damon). BOURNE Identity!
This documentary explains how the insatiable greed (of US corporations and government) made things possible. Academics were paid hundreds of thousands to write deceptive papers of praise. US rating agencies were paid by banks to falsely grade subprime mortgage-backed securities as AAA (rather than risky and toxic). It also explains the mind boggling CDO scam and how it back fired on AIG which then needed bailing out using taxpayers money (~ $150bn). I wonder how many went to jail because lets face it, what they did was worst or as bad as murder. The legal system has just not woken up on how to equate the two.
If you are writing a paper and need to do fact checking, then watch BBC's three-part documentary: "The Love Of Money."
27. The Corporation (2003)
Not Rated | 145 min | Documentary, History
Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.
Votes: 19,422 | Gross: $1.88M
This is a long movie, you'll probably want to watch it in 2 sittings if you don't want to die of over-information.
This old and in-depth documentary is kind of philosophical and tries to cover all definitions of a company - mainly greedy corporations, out there to rip us off and receiving very little in terms of punishment for their wrong doing because even though they act like human beings, they aren't one.
The Corporation uses examples such as Monsanto (e.g. its Agent Orange (DDT) and suicide genes in GM crops). How come this evil company is still alive and profitable today? Its top people are even appointed by the US President in USDA or USFDA to craft national policies and laws which fit the company's agendas and then, get ready for this - They go back to their pet projects in Monsanto because the laws have now been loosened to enable their project to go ahead. Spot anything wrong in that? Monsanto is just the tip of the iceberg. We also have this problem with the big 4 meat-packing companies. If a child can see the obvious then why won't the president of the USA, unless ... !
28. Floored (2009)
Not Rated | 77 min | Documentary
For some people, risking everything is nothing.
Chicago trading floor - Expect cigars, foul language.. and ageing type-A guys spilling gibberish because a camera is pointing at them. Example, a guy bragging about the animals he shot in Africa. Half-way through, another guy started pouring himself a whiskey which felt like watching Comedy Central's brilliant "Drunk History." The mind of American documentary makers is very weird.
If you ever wanted a stereotype of floor traders, then watch this documentary. Trading in the pits (as they refer to it) is a dying art. It's quickly being replaced by electronic exchanges and Online trading website (who knows, maybe Amazon will get into this too, Prime Trading? 1-click trade? haha).
The documentary shows you the world & life of traders. Three-quarter way through, you get a glimpse of the future, the software side (multi-screen trading; programming transition from floor to software).
29. American Greed (2007– )
Documentary focusing on history's largest financial crimes.
Recount of prosecutions of financial scammers across 'Murika. A bit boring in the way they tell the stories but if you're into facts then this series is for you.
30. Madoff (2016– )
165 min | Biography, Crime, Drama
The rise and fall of Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme bilked $65 billion from unsuspecting victims; the largest fraud in US history.
Watched the first 10 minutes and I wasn't bored a single time, maybe it's the hot coffee I just drank. Looking good baby. $65 billion ponzi (undetected for 20 years), here I come!
VPRO Tegenlicht (2002– )
The Wall Street Code
50 min | Documentary
Behind the scene of high-frequency trading on Wall Street. They interview actual quants [coders] to expose a dangerous conflict of interest between a handful of HFT companies and the Exchange where the trades are booked. Talks about queue jumping which to me sounds like the FCC bill to kill net-neutrality but in the context of traders intranet. This is bad for the sector and killing jobs. As always US SEC is asleep at the wheel, just like in 2008.