10 must-watch movies to understand finance and business

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Movies can be a powerful tool for understanding complex concepts in finance and business. Through engaging narratives and compelling characters, these movies can demystify intricate topics and offer insights into the world of economics, investment, and corporate dynamics.

Here are 10 of such movies that provide valuable lessons and perspectives on finance and business.

The Big Short

Directed by Adam McKay, “The Big Short” is based on Michael Lewis’s book about the 2008 financial crisis. The movie follows a group of investors who bet against the housing market, foreseeing the impending collapse. Through a mix of humour and drama, it explains complicated financial instruments like mortgage-backed securities and collateralised debt obligations. The movie’s creative storytelling, including cameos from celebrities to break down jargon, makes it both educational and entertaining.

Wall Street

Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street” is a classic that explores the cutthroat world of corporate finance. The movie follows Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a young stockbroker who becomes entangled with the unscrupulous corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). Gekko’s famous mantra, “Greed is good,” encapsulates the moral dilemmas and ethical challenges in the financial industry. This movie is essential for understanding the impact of corporate greed and the pressures of the stock market.

Moneyball

“Moneyball,” directed by Bennett Miller and based on Michael Lewis’s book, tells the story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team. Beane uses sabermetrics, a data-driven approach, to assemble a competitive team on a tight budget. The movie highlights the importance of innovation, data analysis, and strategic thinking in business, showing how unconventional methods can disrupt traditional industries.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a stockbroker who engages in widespread fraud and corruption on Wall Street. The movie is a wild ride through the excesses and moral hazards of the finance world. While it is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unethical behaviour, it also provides insight into sales tactics, persuasion, and the dark side of financial success.

Margin Call

“Margin Call,” directed by J.C. Chandor, takes place over 24 hours at a large investment bank on the brink of financial collapse. The movie provides a tense, behind-the-scenes look at the decisions and ethical dilemmas faced by executives during a financial crisis. It offers a realistic portrayal of the complexities and high-stakes nature of the finance industry, emphasising the importance of risk management and accountability.

Too Big to Fail

Based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book, “Too Big to Fail” is an HBO film that delves into the 2008 financial crisis from the perspective of the major players involved. Directed by Curtis Hanson, the movie explores the actions and decisions of government officials and banking executives as they navigate the crisis. It provides a comprehensive overview of the systemic issues in the financial system and the efforts to prevent a total economic collapse.

The Social Network

Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, “The Social Network” chronicles the founding of Facebook and the legal battles that followed. The movie focuses on Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) and his journey from a Harvard student to a tech billionaire. It explores themes of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the complexities of starting a business, offering valuable insights into the tech industry and the dynamics of business partnerships.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

This documentary, directed by Alex Gibney, examines the rise and fall of Enron, one of the largest corporate fraud scandals in history. Based on the book by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, the movie provides a detailed look at how Enron executives manipulated financial statements and engaged in unethical practices. It serves as a powerful lesson on corporate governance, ethics, and the consequences of unchecked ambition and greed.

Glengarry Glen Ross

Based on David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a gripping drama about real estate salesmen under immense pressure to close deals. The movie, directed by James Foley, features stellar performances by Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, and Alec Baldwin. It highlights the cutthroat nature of sales, the psychological pressures of the business world, and the ethical compromises individuals may face in their pursuit of success.

The Banker

“The Banker” is a 2020 American biographical drama directed by George Nolfi and written by Niceole Levy, George Nolfi, and David Lewis Smith. The movie is based on the true story of Bernard Garrett, an African American businessman who, in the 1950s and 1960s, hired a white man to pretend to be the face of his company in order to acquire loans and other business opportunities. The movie stars Samuel L. Jackson as Joe Morris, a wealthy and experienced businessman who becomes a mentor to Garrett (played by Anthony Mackie), and Nicholas Hoult as Matt Steiner, the white man hired to be the face of Garrett’s company. The movie explores themes of racism, entrepreneurship, and the challenges faced by African American businesspeople in the mid-20th century. It also highlights the ingenuity and determination of Bernard Garrett, who was able to build a successful business empire despite the obstacles in his way. It is a must-see for anyone interested in business, history, and social justice.

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