14 finance movies every entrepreneur should watch

April 22, 2021

Finance movies every entrepreneur should watch

Popcorn time again!

We’ve already seen the best business movies, so now we can explore a more uncomfortable area – finance. As the majority of entrepreneurs and business owners, you probably fall short on liking and understanding the financial aspect of running a business. Reading volumes of college literature will surely help you, but we doubt you have the time. So here’s a list of the top finance movies that will teach you valuable finance lessons while entertaining you.

Jump directly to:

 1. Trading Places

 2. Boiler Room

 3. The Big Short

 4. Wall Street

 5. Baby Boom

 6. Money Pit

 7. Knocked Up

 8. Limitless

 9. The Company Men

 10. The Banker

 11. The Wizard of Lies

 12. Margin Call

 13. Chasing Madoff

 14. Rogue Trader

The best finance movies and the lessons they teach us

Some of the following finance movies will help you grasp the general idea, while other stock market movies will give you an insight into Wall Street. Some of them are based on true stories, others are fiction. However, what they all have in common is that they all convey palpable finance lessons.

Trading Places (1983)

It’s almost 40 years since Trading Places was released. Yet the smart script played by the unparalleled Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ralph Bellamy teaches a timeless lesson: If two guys can do it then why not me? 

Although this is a comedy movie, it’s also pretty serious in stating that no matter what someone’s background is, and no matter what their position is, they have something to contribute, and will often be better at something than you are.

Quote from the movie Trading Places

Boiler Room (2000)

There’s a scene in Boiler Room where Ben Affleck hypes up (or down, depending on your POV) employee candidates. Well, according to real-life employees in the corporate world, this is not very far from the truth. On interviews, the senior brokers spend the whole time trying to sell you the job and don’t care one bit about any of your qualifications. In the same manner, the offices look and sound exactly like the brokerage portrayed in this movie.

We’ve come a long way with digital trading, cryptocurrencies and whatnot, but that doesn’t remove Boiler Room from the best stock market movies list.

Quote from the movie The Boiler Room

The Big Short (2015)

This finance movie follows a few savvy traders as they become aware, before anyone else of the housing bubble that triggered the financial crisis in 2008. The movie is known for its clever way to break down sophisticated financial instruments. This movie helps in learning to prepare for the worst to face and not to give up once the market crashes.

It teaches you how to look at real numbers and data instead of following popular opinion to invest your money and do business.

Wall Street (1987)

Well, the popular opinion is that Wall Street is holding the number one spot on the top stock market movies list. And for once, it matches the critics’ opinion. The 80s were the greed era, and this movie properly depicts that. But because greed is a timeless and universal human trait, the scenario can be easily played in 2021 or 2050.

Michael Douglas, who plays the leading role, won the Oscar for Best Actor, and this speaks volumes about the magnitude of this movie. If this were a book, it would’ve been mandatory reading for finance students in all Ivy League universities.

Quote from the movie Wall Street

Baby Boom (1987)

The film Baby Boom (1987) gives an example of a female entrepreneur, played by the legendary Diane Keaton, who had to figure out work and child care. She had to leave her corporate career and figure out a different way to support herself financially while taking care of her child even though she was amazing at what she did. 

It’s clear that childcare (or lack of quality childcare) has an impact on your ability to work and make an income. Decades after the movie was filmed, this situation is still true even though the optimists can argue otherwise.

Money Pit (1986)

At this point, we could easily say that the best finance movies were shot during the 80s.

Money Pit is a movie about a couple who did not think twice before acquiring a property. It’s a light-hearted comedy starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long. They were so emotional and were convinced by the salesperson to buy the house without checking on it thoroughly. As a result, all their money was just thrown in the money pit.

This movie teaches you to be extra careful in handling money. Once you’ve seen it, you will approach money-related matters cautiously and weigh everything, including its effects after.

Knocked Up (2007)

Not your usual finance movie, but Knocked Up will teach you the importance of business emergency funds. In this movie, the lead role relies only on social security money and other non-stable jobs. Then one day, an unexpected thing happened, he became a father. Being a father required him to support both his child and the mother, and he doesn’t have enough savings to sustain them.

This movie is like the current situation. The pandemic surprised every one of us, and everyone struggled to sustain their needs during the lockdown. Some business owners swear that thanks to the movie, they have saved enough emergency funds to maintain their company and support the employees.

Limitless (2011)

Bradley Cooper’s Limitless teaches us that integrity is always at stake in how we handle our financial success and affluence. Sometimes integrity is compromised when we want to sustain our success in finances, career, and life. Cheating becomes acceptable when you allow greed to sit in your heart more than your principles and values in life. 

Your integrity will always be tested at your job. If you are weak in character, you will find ways to attain success in the most effortless route, even if it takes sacrificing your integrity and values.

The Company Men (2010)

Prioritizing your finances before your social status, and caring for your human resources are two of the best lessons from this movie. Ben Affleck’s character had to give up on his luxurious life once the money got tight. He and his colleagues lost all self-respect when the corporation they worked for had to cut expenses due to the recession.

Again, this scenario feels life-like because during the pandemic many companies went through the same and employees were badly affected. Especially in places with bad company culture where the social status of the boss is more important than the staff.

Quote from the movie The Company Men

The Banker (2020)

The Banker is about two black entrepreneurs that aspire to buy banks in the 60s but were met with obstacles because they were black. They convinced their white friend to be a front man for their company and taught him the lingo to negotiate with white lenders. They had to pretend to be the janitor and the chauffeur but ultimately the stunt worked.

Although the racism in the movie will make you sick to your stomach at times, the entrepreneurial lessons are just priceless. Samuel L. Jackson and his co-stars did a tremendous job once again.

Quote from movie The Banker

The Wizard of Lies (2017)

This movie is all about the rise and fall of Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. The big takeaway from the film is that if things are too good to be true, they probably are. Another important lesson is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Many of those who lost the most put their entire portfolio in the hands of one man.

Headlined by Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, this is not a critically acclaimed movie, yet to the ordinary spectator gives invaluable insight into the world of fraud and mishandling finances.

Margin Call (2011)

Margin Call remains to this day one of the top stock market movies. It’s been almost a decade, and the lessons remain. 

Number one, diversifying your product investments is better than focusing on a single one. Having a broad range minimises the effects of the constant ups and downs in the trade market.

Number two, not all products that are under heavily discounted prices are goods. There is always a sketchy side to why prices go down and these products are offloaded. You have to be determined in finding out why.

And number three, leverage investing is a considerable risk, and Margin Call showed how it dramatically affects how you build your business if it fails. Although using credit to purchase more stocks works under the right conditions, you must first determine how confident you face the possible consequences.

Chasing Madoff (2010)

This finance movie is based on a true story, and just like The Wizard of Lies it revolves around the scam of $18 billion by Bernie Madoff. Bernie took an estimated $18 billion from investors by a massive Ponzi scheme and then scammed them. The one investigator spent ten years trying to expose Bernie and was successful in 2009. The main lesson in this is how you can avoid the scam in the stock market and what are some prohibited things you must stay away from.

Rogue Trader (1999)

Based on the true story of Nick Leeson, a stock market trader who worked for Barings Bank, the movie portrays how he brought down one of the oldest UK banks. 

The key lesson of this movie is that banks and investors need to keep an eye on the employees and people who have been given greater responsibility in the business. You never know what is going through an employee’s mind when they are given a bigger responsibility.

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