Stock market movies combine two of our favorite things, Wall Street and movies. Do you love both watching movies and the stock market? Well, I have good news for you. For those out there who love the world of finance and stocks, you can enjoy a movie and learn at the same time!
We all know how stressful the stock market is. It was so stressful for these directors that they decided to make a thriller about it. The mix of emotions you get when you invest in the stock market creates the perfect conditions for great cinematic masterpieces. Whether they are fictional or nonfictional, finance, stock market movies, and documentaries have the ability to make us feel a great range of emotions. Here is a list of the best movies and documentaries on finance and the stock market. Ready, set, watch, and learn!
The Big Short
The Big Short is definitely one of the most acclaimed stock market movies. Although some parts of the movie are fictional, it is based on a true story. It depicts what led to the Great Financial Crisis and how a few financiers were able to profit from it.
It was released in 2015 and directed by Adam McKay. Originally, it was a book written in 2010 by Micheal Lewis. The director did an excellent job portraying the greed and corruption in the finance world and the movie received multiple awards, like the Academy Award for Best Writing in 2016.
There is certainly no other movie that allows the viewer to understand complex and intricate financial concepts that are extremely useful. In a simple yet exciting way, The Big Short is by far one of the most influential and educational Wall Street movies.
Barbarians at the Gates
Barbarians at the Gates depicts the story of RJR Nabisco and his CEO F. Ross Johnson. It is a particularly interesting movie to better understand how the events of the leveraged buyout unfolded. The movie is based on a book with the same name. A very interesting account of what really went on, and it shows how greed was the main driver behind the M&A surge in the 80s.
This Wall Street movie was released in 1993 and directed by Glenn Jordan. Originally, the book was published in 1989 by authors John Helyar and Bryan Burrough. This is a true story and shows how the greed of people dragged down the economy back in the 80s.
Although American Psycho is purely fictional, it was one of the best 90s thrillers. The story of Patrick Bateman, an investment banker with obscure hobbies that he tries to hide from his friends (which eventually results in uncontrollable bloodlust), is a must-watch for every movie and finance aficionado. It is an exciting thriller that has slowly become one of the most memorable movies of its era, generating all sorts of memes.
This stock market movie was directed by Mary Harron and was adapted from a book of the same name written by Bret Easton Ellis. It was published in 1991 and the movie was released in 2000.
Rogue Trader is a drama that teaches us all not to chase our losses. Based on a true story, Nick Leeson, a British stock market superstar put in authority in Singapore’s Barings bank, loses $1.5 million overnight. In Singapore, he tries to take advantage of the Asian market by making high-risk investments, well, we all know how that ended.
Nick Leeson was 28 when he ruined Barings bank. He hired inexperienced and incapable staff, used $1.3 billion of the bank's money in risky, unauthorized investments, and hid his losses by using a secret account. Eventually, he got caught and spent 4 years in Singaporean jail, making him one of the worst rogue traders in history.
This stock market and Wall Street movie was released in 1999 and directed by James Dearden, who did a fantastic job making the movie as accurate as possible.
Trading Places is a 1983 fictional comedy about two snobbish millionaire brothers who made a bet on Louis Winthorpe III, an employee in Duke & Duke, the brothers’ company, and Billy Ray Valentine, a conman and street hustler. When Winthorpe and Valentine find out about the brothers’ scheme, they seek revenge on the Duke brothers.
This Wall Street movie was released in 1983 and directed by John Landis. With Eddie Murphy as Billy Ray Valentine, this movie is classic comedy gold and an all-time favorite.
The Wolf of Wall Street
This movie is the true story of Jordan Belfort and his firm, Stratton Oakmont. This has become an iconic representation of his life and perhaps one of the most unexpectedly bizarre biographical accounts. It shows how Jordan Belfort was able to build an empire and how his wrongdoing ultimately impacted his life.
The Wolf of Wall Street is a masterpiece directed by Martin Scorcese and it remains to this day as one of the best stock market movies in history. This movie will keep you entertained for 3 hours straight and the most surprising thing about it is that it is not entirely, but for the most part based on a true story. Yes, the plane crash, the yacht sinking in the Mediterranean Sea, the chimpanzee in the office, the $26,000 dinners. It may sound crazy, but this really did happen and the movie was inspired by the real-life events of Jordan Belfort.
This stock market movie was released in 2013.
Boiler Room is a special movie on this list. One of the reasons is the fact that what we see depicted in the movie is hardly found today. The time when brokers used to cold call possible clients and try to persuade them to invest in fake companies is a long-gone industry. This stock market movie shows exactly the type of culture some of these firms had. Each character is well-developed and has its own distinct personality. This makes the movie extremely entertaining and enjoyable.
This crime drama was released in 2000 and directed by Ben Younger.
Margin Call is one of those iconic stock market movies that are hardly replicated. The tension and thrill can be felt through the screen. As the company finds out that its risk pricing model was inaccurate, everyone starts to panic. This finance movie features a few of the best and most memorable actors playing interesting roles. A must-watch thriller for anyone interested in finance and the 2008 stock market crisis.
This movie was released in 2011 and directed by J.C. Chandor.
Wall Street, the most iconic Wall Street movie. Gordon Gekko is a mythical character among stock market movie aficionados. It remains one of the best cinematic masterpieces related to the stock market and finance. Every finance buff should watch it at least once.
Bud, our main character, idolizes Gordon Gekko and admires him for his power and financial status. However, he soon finds out that Gekko has evil motives. This movie was released in 1987 and directed by Oliver Stone.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Enjoyed the first Wall Street movie? Well, here’s the sequel! Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is the following movie on this short duology. After many years of reflecting on his actions, Gordon Gekko has still remained the same. If you’ve watched the first movie, then you must certainly watch the second one as well. Can’t leave an adventure unfinished, am I right?
This sequel was released in 2010 by the same director, Oliver Stone.
The Hummingbird Project
The Hummingbird Project is one of the more recent stock market movies on this list. It sheds some light with regards to quantitative trading and how financial institutions operate today. Since modern technology allows us to communicate faster, it has become progressively more important to secure information faster than the competition. It is now the name of the game.
Although some of us might think this is just a contemporary thing, it is not. In fact, Nathan Rothschild in the 19th century also relied heavily on communication speed to profit from his endeavors. It is said that Nathan Rothschild received letters carried by a pigeon to know exactly who would come out victorious in the battle of Waterloo. This allowed him to place his trades right before everyone else had heard of the news. The same theory is put in practice today, but with eccentric and much more advanced systems.
This drama-thriller film was released in 2019 and directed by Kim Nguyen.
Richard Gere stars as the main character in this thriller film which tells the intricate story of a hedge fund manager. His company seems to be going through a rough patch and experiences crisis after crisis. Will he be able to save his company and support his family? The story is complex and filled with unexpected events. A very exciting thriller that will grab everyone’s attention.
This movie was released in 2013 and directed by Nicholas Jarecki.
In Equity, Naomi Bishop, a senior investment banker, gets caught in a web of corruption and is being threatened with a financial scandal. As a woman on Wall Street, she must overcome the men-dominated industry to save her career.
This drama was released in 2016 and directed by Meera Menon. This movie is entirely fictional, but a bizarre take on women's empowerment.
The Wizard of Lies
This is an amazing crime drama based on real-life events featuring Robert De Niro as Bernard Madoff, a con man behind one of the world’s biggest investment firms and the man who stole $65 billion. He ran a massive Ponzi scheme and defrauded investors, granting huge losses for the people who invested in him.
This movie was released in 2017 and directed by Barry Levinson.
Jim Doyle, a prodigal mathematician, develops a formula to predict the stock market and a couple whose son had died wants to sue the bank. Soon, they must fight against corruption and try not to lose everything.
This Australian thriller was released in 2001 and directed by Robert Connolly.
This South Korean crime and action film were released in 2019 and directed by Noori Park. It features Ryu Jun-Yeol as Jo Il-Hyun, a rookie stockbroker who wants to be rich. Eventually, a shady financial figure lures him into a stock market scam and now he has to find a way to get out of trouble.
This movie is a good representation of scams in the stock market and how we should learn not to be susceptible to them.
Marty, an anti-money laundering analyst, finds out that their potential $7 billion clients are laundering money. He then discovers that their scheme involves an art gallery and a deadly Russian gang. He investigates the scheme and makes it his mission to take down the money laundering corporation.
This action crime thriller was released in 2019 and directed by John Stalberg Jr. This film features Kurt Russell, Luke Hemsworth, Beau Knapp, and Alexis Bledel.
Other People’s Money
Other People’s Money is a comedy and drama film released in 1991 and directed by Norman Jewison. It was adapted from a play written by Jerry Sterner.
In this film, Danny DeVito stars as “Larry the Liquidator”, a corporate raider who breaks down companies and sells their parts. He wants to raid an electric company in a small town, but the owner of the company tasks his beautiful daughter, who is a lawyer, to protect their company and distract Larry. Eventually, Larry has to choose between her or money.
The Last Day of Lehman Brothers
This British television film is a dramatization about the Lehman brothers. It was the fourth largest investment bank and the largest bankruptcy in the history of America. Their real estate investments and mortgages lost billions of dollars and a rapid drop in the stock market. They tried to spin off their bad assets, but the Bank of America and Barclays found them worthless. The bank was believed to have taken too much risk, but didn’t have the capability to raise funds quickly. Lehman’s assets were evaluated by analysts with the hopes that the Bank of America would change its mind. Barclays on the other hand announced that its British regulators would not approve a deal either. Their overconfidence has led them to a bad position. They tried everything they could to make things work, but unfortunately, it led to bankruptcy.
This drama film was released in 2009 and directed by Micheal Samuels, and it is one of the best stock market movies out there.
A Good Year
Max Skinner, a British workaholic investment banker, inherits a chateau and vineyard in Provence, France. He travels there to sell off the property, but instead, he finds his long-lost cousin from California who claims that the property belongs to her. The two fight for the property, but somewhere along the way, they find love.
This charming rom-com
was released in 2006 and directed by Ridley Scott.
Set in the 1960s when people of color were discriminated against, two black entrepreneurs strive for equality and dream of being bankers and landowners in a time when racism made it impossible to do so. They came up with a business plan, but they’ve got a long road ahead.
This drama film is based on a true story and was released in 2020. It was directed by George Nolfi. It’s an empowering film for people of color and how they fought for equality.
Rollover is an American political thriller film produced in 1981. The story revolved around Lee Winters who is a widow of the chairman and stockholder of a chemical company called Winterchem Enterprises. Her late husband discovered a secret fund that involved asset transfers using account number 21214. She then met a financier named Hubbel Smith who was appointed president of the Borough National Bank as planned by Maxwell Emery in an attempt to reveal the financial status of the bank. Smith discovered that the 21214 account number was an Arab secret slush fund where Emery transfers the money that belonged to the Arabs. The Arab company’s plan was to destabilize the western economy by pulling out their money from banks all over the world.
This thriller drama film was released in 1981 and directed by Alan J. Pakula.
This film stars Kevin Bacon in his youth as Jack Casey, a broker who suffers from a huge loss on the stock market one day. He had to sell all of his belongings and went to San Francisco to be a bicycle messenger. However, he did not expect that even the job of a bicycle messenger would be so dangerous when the Gypsy makes Jack deliver drugs for him.
Quicksilver is a crime drama film that was released in 1986 and directed by Thomas Micheal Donelly. It teaches us that you can have everything you ever wanted, but you can lose it all in a snap of a finger. What matters most is that you find your purpose.
Limitless is a 2011 American science fiction film. Edward Morra, played by Bradley Cooper, was a struggling author. One day, he was given a drug called nootropic NZT-48. The drug boosted his brain abilities at a fast speed and acquired perfect recall. He invested in the stock market and met Carl Van Loon, the richest man in America played by Robert De Niro. He then hired Eddie to do whimsical magic with investment using his limitless capabilities when he’s on the pill. The story evolved on the drug and the killing that was involved because of it. Towards the end, Eddie was able to perfect the drug. He was able to wean from it while retaining his abilities.
This action thriller film was released in 2011 and directed by Neil Burger.
Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story
This is the real-life story of Harshad Mehta, the man behind India’s biggest scam in history. He committed systematic fraud and took over 1 billion to buy stocks. This also led to the collapse of multiple security systems in India. Eventually, he got caught and Mehta served a sentence of 5 years of rigorous imprisonment.
This biography was released in 2020 and directed by Hansal Mehta. A lesson on the higher you climb, the harder you fall.
McMafia is a British crime drama TV series. Alex Godman, your average banker, gets caught in the world of organized crime and is forced to participate in it because his father is a Russian mafia boss living in London. They’re trying to escape their realities, but they know from the start that it’s harder than it seems.
This TV series was aired in 2018 and directed by James Watkins. So far, there is only one season and the next one will air somewhere in 2022. This entertaining, action-packed mafia series will keep your eyes glued to the screen for hours.
Too Big To Fail
In this film, the top financial industries try to save the housing market in the 2008 financial crisis. It’s a true story that was adapted from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s nonfiction book, Too Big To Fail.
The movie explains how leading industries like J.P Morgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, Warren Buffett, and other companies are too big to fail because if they do, it could lead to an economic collapse and financially burden all of America.
The Company Men
The Company Men tells the story of three different co-workers that see their life change before their very eyes. They will need to adapt and change their work in order to survive. A very inspiring stock market movie that shows that no matter how many obstacles the universe throws at us, we need to fight back and never give up.
This indie drama film was released in 2010 and features Ben Affleck and Kevin Costner. It was directed by John Wells and partially inspired by his own life’s events in the early 90s.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Glengarry Glen Ross is an indie drama film in which a New York real estate company plans on firing every single one of their employees by the end of the week except the top two highest-performing ones and it sure does get exciting. Shelley Levene, who is played by John Lemmon, has a sick daughter and competes against Dave Moss, who is played by Ed Harris, to get the favor of their bosses.
This movie was released in 1992 and directed by James Foley. It was adapted from David Mamet's play, Glengarry Glen Ross. It features Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin. This is a classic film that sheds light on the real side of the business.
Here is a TV series worth mentioning for stock market and Wall Street movies aficionados:
A ruthless US attorney, Chuck Rhoades, and a hedge fund kingpin, Bobby Axelrod, compete against each other in the financial market. Throughout the series, they try to topple each other over using their wits and intuition. With plot twists here and there, this show is sure to keep you entertained while you absorb all of that financial knowledge.
This fictional drama TV series was first aired in 2016 and produced by Brian Koppelman, David Levien, Christian Soriano, Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Neil Burger. As of 2021, Billions has 5 seasons. The sixth and final season will be aired in 2022.
Image source: conversation