Top 10 Finance Movies You Should Watch

The allure of the financial world, with its high stakes, dramatic rises and falls, and intricate dealings, has been a rich source of material for filmmakers for years.

These top 10 finance movies delve deep into the heart of finance, exploring the human stories behind the numbers. They offer a blend of education, entertainment, and cautionary tales about ambition, ethics, and the global impact of financial decisions.

Introduction to Finance in Cinema

Cinema has the power to make the complex and often opaque world of finance accessible and engaging. Through compelling storytelling, character development, and dramatic tension, finance movies bring to life the challenges and ethical dilemmas faced by individuals in this high-stakes arena.

They provide a window into the inner workings of financial institutions, stock markets and the global economy, making them an invaluable tool for understanding the impact of financial decisions on our lives and society.

How Films Can Help With Financial Literacy

In today’s economy, financial literacy is more important than ever. Understanding the basics of finance, such as investing, the stock market, and the causes and consequences of financial crises, can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their personal and professional lives.

Finance movies, while dramatised, can spark interest in these topics and encourage viewers to learn more about the financial systems that influence their world.

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The Top 10 Finance Movies Ranked by IMDb Ratings

Here are Benzinga India’s handpicked top 10 finance movies, ranked from 10 to 1 based on their IMDb ratings, with extended plot summaries to give you a taste of their narrative depth and thematic richness.

10. Boiler Room (2000)

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

In “Boiler Room,” Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), a college dropout, gets a job at a small brokerage firm, where he’s drawn into the lucrative but unethical world of selling questionable stocks to unsuspecting buyers. The film exposes the high-pressure sales tactics and moral compromises of boiler room operations, as Seth grapples with his conscience and the legal ramifications of his actions. It’s a cautionary tale about the seductive power of easy money and the corrupting influence of greed.

9. Margin Call (2011)

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

“Margin Call” takes place over 24 hours at a Wall Street investment bank on the eve of the 2008 financial crisis. When a young analyst uncovers information that could lead to the firm’s downfall, the company’s executives are faced with moral and financial dilemmas. The film, featuring an ensemble cast including Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, and Zachary Quinto, is a tense thriller that explores the decisions and rationalisations made by those at the top as they navigate an impending disaster.

8. Too Big to Fail (2011)

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

This HBO film dramatises the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, focusing on the efforts of the U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (William Hurt) and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (Paul Giamatti) to prevent the collapse of the global economy.

“Too Big to Fail” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the negotiations and decisions that took place among the government and Wall Street’s biggest banks, highlighting the challenges of balancing ethical, financial, and political considerations in the face of a worldwide economic meltdown.

7. Wall Street (1987)

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

“Wall Street” is a seminal exploration of greed and corruption in the financial industry. Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is an ambitious stockbroker who becomes involved with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a wealthy, unscrupulous corporate raider.

The film’s famous mantra, “Greed is good,” encapsulates the ethos of the 1980s financial scene. As Bud rises in the ranks, he must confront the moral consequences of his actions and decide what truly matters in life.

6. Trading Places (1983)

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

A classic comedy, “Trading Places” uses the financial world as a backdrop for a story about class and social status.

The lives of Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd), a wealthy commodity broker, and Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), a streetwise con artist, are swapped as part of a cruel bet by two millionaire brothers.

The film humorously critiques the social constructs of wealth and poverty, while also offering insight into the workings of the stock market and commodities trading.

5. American Psycho (2000)

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Set against the backdrop of 1980s Wall Street, “American Psycho” follows Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale), a successful investment banker with a secret life as a serial killer.

The film satirises the materialism and superficiality of the corporate world, where appearances are everything, and moral decay lies just beneath the surface.

Bateman’s descent into madness is a dark commentary on the emptiness and brutality of the pursuit of wealth and status.

4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

This documentary investigates the rise and fall of Enron, once one of the largest companies in the United States, which collapsed due to fraud and corruption.

Through interviews, archival footage, and analysis, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” exposes the unethical practices and false reporting that led to one of the biggest corporate scandals in history. It’s a compelling study of hubris, greed, and the failure of regulatory oversight.

3. The Big Short (2015)

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

“The Big Short” tells the story of a group of investors who bet against the US mortgage market before the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Based on real events and characters, the film uses a mix of comedy and drama to explain complex financial instruments and decisions that led to the collapse. It’s an insightful and entertaining look at the financial system and the individuals who saw the disaster coming when no one else did.

2. Inside Job (2010)

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

“Inside Job” is a comprehensive documentary that explores the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. Through detailed analysis and interviews with key figures in finance, politics, and academia, the film reveals how systemic corruption, deregulation and unethical behaviour in the financial sector led to global economic turmoil.

It’s an eye-opening examination of the greed and shortsightedness that contributed to one of the worst financial crises in history.

1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

At the top of our list, “The Wolf of Wall Street” chronicles the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a stockbroker who becomes embroiled in a world of crime and corruption.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the film is a fast-paced, raucous journey through the excesses of the financial industry in the 1990s, highlighting the destructive power of greed. It’s a cautionary tale about the intoxicating effects of wealth and the moral vacuum that can exist in the pursuit of success.

Why These Movies Matter

These finance movies offer more than just a glimpse into the world of money and markets; they provide a lens through which we can examine our values, ethics, and the societal impact of financial decisions.

By portraying the complexities, challenges, and sometimes the darker side of the financial world, these films encourage viewers to think critically about the role of finance in our lives and the importance of integrity and responsibility in the pursuit of wealth.

The top 10 finance movies ranked by IMDb ratings offer a diverse array of perspectives on the financial world, from high-stakes drama and biting satire to in-depth documentary analysis.

They serve as a reminder of the power of cinema to illuminate the human stories behind the headlines, making the intricate world of finance accessible, understandable and profoundly human.

Whether you’re a finance professional, a student, or simply a movie lover, these films are sure to provide both entertainment and insight, inviting you to explore the complex interplay between money, power and ethics.

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