26 Best Stock Market Movies Guaranteed to Entertain You

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Finance is a mysterious business. At first, Wall Street may seem like it's populated with genius masters of the universe, but in reality, it's full of people trying to outsmart each other!

Luckily for us, Hollywood loves making films about the world of finance - these stock market movies are worth watching and can teach us how markets work behind the scenes, with the occasional encounter of a rogue trader...

A career in finance is a journey indeed. Even if you're not an investment banker or finance professional, we all remember the long-lasting effects of the 2008 financial crisis, which led to one of the biggest stock market crash.

Whilst finance movies can be based on the book, you will notice that a good wall street movie, which captures the essence of the financial world, is often based on a true story.

What are the best finance-related movies of all time? Here are our picks for the top 26 must-watch movies and documentaries if you want to learn more about the stock market, banking, and the financial system at large. This is one of the most extensive lists on the web; guaranteed to entertain you!

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Top Movies about Money:

 

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The Company Men

2010 | 1h 44m | Drama

Although the financial side of the movie is left out, the impact of the Great Recession of 2008 has been incredibly pronounced in The Company Men. Whether you were a laid-off worker or a businessman who lost money during the financial crisis, The Company Men is very relatable, insightful and empathetic.

The movie follows the downsizing of an inland shipbuilding firm GTX shortly after the market crash and highlights the psychological aspects when most guys in the room lose their jobs.

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Trading Places

1983 | 1h 56m | Comedy

Louis Winthorpe (Dan Ackroyd) is the CEO of the commodities broker company owned by brothers Mortimer and Randolph Duke. The Duke brothers often argue about their vision of the world of finance, although both seem to agree that greed is good.

The movie starts when Winthorpe encounters Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy), a street hunter who he suspects to be robbing him; the brothers decide to experiment, having Winthorpe arrested and disavowed, effectively switching the lives of Louis and Billy Ray, or trading places.

This futile bet will have dire consequences as we witness the rise and fall of the protagonists. Billy Ray and Louis eventually come together with a plan to make a return using a leveraged buyout to hit back at the Duke brothers, driving the swindling financiers into a tumultuous spiral, in a true investment banking defeat.

Not many stock market movies can present a humoristic take on Wall Street; Trading Places received two nominations at the 41st Golden Globe Awards in 1984, for Best Musical or Comedy, and Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Eddie Murphy.

This movie was based on real-life finance incidents, such as one in which two commodities traders were able to scam their wealthy client out of his fortune.

 

American Psycho

2000 | 1h 42m | Crime - Drama

You won't learn about financial markets in this movie! American Psycho, based on the book of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis, is classified more into crime and horror categories.

Christian Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a young, successful, materialistic investment banking specialist in Manhattan, who spends most of his time eating in expensive eateries.

In the movie, he keeps up appearances during the day in front of friends and colleagues, hiding his psychotic alter-ego persona of a violent killer. There is a certain essence of the evolutionary culture embedded in his gruesome killing fantasies.

Since the mid-2000s, the film has gained popularity, attracting a sizeable cult following, helped by the rise of various social media platforms.

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The Pursuit of Happyness

2006 | 1h 57m | Biography - Drama

This touching movie, starring Will Smith and Jaden Smith, was based on real-life events, and earned 25 nominations and 11 wins; including Best Breakthrough Performance for Jaden Smith.

Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a father who would become homeless after financial difficulties put a strain on his marriage, aims for freedom. He has custody of their son and hustles to make money, for lack of a better situation.

A chance meeting introduces him to the stock market industry when he lands the opportunity to become an intern stockbroker. Conscious that this is too big to fail, he has everything to prove.

The film explains the challenges of entering the daunting investment banking business. This heartfelt tale was a box office success, as the story resonated with many on these widespread social issues.

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Citizen Kane

1941 | 1h 59m | Drama - Mystery

One of the oldest stock market movies in this selection. Citizen Kane was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won one, for Best Original Screenplay in 1941. Orson Welles shines for his memorable role as New York's newspapers mogul and industrial magnate.

The movie starts with the enormously wealthy Charles Foster Kane on his deathbed at Xanadu Castle, where he mumbles his last word: “Rosebud”. Reporters will then scramble to uncover the meaning of it.

Having a closer look at Kane's life and interviewing all those in his inner circle, journalists investigate the history of the one who eventually sold his newspaper empire, after the 1929 stock market crash left him with very little money.

Rather loosely inspired by William Randolph Hearst's life, the Wellesian movie masterpiece is frequently called the best movie film of all time.

Links have also been made with the personality and career of Donald Trump. Citizen Kane is reportedly one of Trump's favorite movies, with stories that Trump is fascinated by and identifies with Kane.

 

Too Big to Fail

2011 | 1h 39m | Biography - Drama

Too Big to Fail 2011 takes an in-depth look at the 2008 financial crisis, by following how U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tried to rescue Lehman Brothers and AIG, amongst others, from bankruptcy - a true story.

Both the financial industry and the housing market collapsed, with some household names gone forever. It’s important to understand how we got into this situation when the consensus at the time was that banks were "too big to fail". This wasn't an isolated rogue trader move, but widespread greed for lack of financial clarity.

This documentary-style movie is worth watching and gives you insight into how it happened, who was responsible, and what could have been done differently, had the smartest guys in the room acted responsibly!

 

Glengarry Glen Ross

1992 | 1h 40m | Crime Drama

Starring Al Pacino and Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross 1992 was nominated for - and won - several awards, but box office revenue came under the film's budget.

Whilst not strictly a financial movie, the film explores the housing market through the working lives of real estate salesmen. The characters are charismatic and well-acted and depict the rivalry of power over money.

Blake (Alec Baldwin), one of the company's top salesmen, is sent to give an ultimatum to the team to achieve their targets, and the underachievers will be fired.

Suddenly gloves are off, and an unstoppable race ensues to bring customers at any cost, including manipulation and burglary.

Glengarry Glen Ross was adapted from a play by David Mamet, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for it.

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Best Stock Market Movies:

When you start looking, there are many stock market movies with captivating stories - it's not all about the Wolf of Wall Street! Some of these finance movies feature real-life events, some are fiction, some are simply a fantastic crime and some are comedies. Here are the best Wall Street movies we think you should watch.

Arbitrage

2012 | 1h 47m | Drama - Thriller

The film Arbitrages is intended as a critique of the profit-orientated financial system; it cuts through and captures the greed of some wall street players.

Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a hedge fund magnate, preparing to sell his company for a healthy amount of money. Except that, unbeknown to most of his employees, Robert made undeclared losses of over $400 million, which he must hide for the sale to go through.

All cover-up attempts fail, and problems begin recurring in Robert's private life. The movie shows a realistic illustration of how far an individual is prepared to go when greed is good for him.

Also from us Why the Stock Market Should Be On Your Radar: A Guide For First-Time Investors

 

Barbarians at the Gate

1993 | 1h 47m | Biography - Comedy Drama

Based on the book of the same name by journalists Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, Barbarians at the Gate won multiple awards, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Made for Television Movie.

This is a cautionary tale about corporate takeovers, greed, and corruption. It tells the story of RJR Nabisco's leveraged buyout in 1988 for $25 billion, an unprecedented takeover offer at that time.

A bidding war ensued, even though the transaction would place thousands of Nabisco's employees out of work, simply put 'greed clarifies cuts'.

The book Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco was re-released in 2008 by publisher Harper Collins to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the RJR deal.

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The Bank

2001 | 1h 44m | Drama - Thriller

This Australian Wall Street film focuses on software that helps predict stock market trends, devised by a young mathematician hired as an analyst by a corrupt investment advisor.

Following the usual take on stock market movies, namely banking, corruption, and alchemy; reviews were mixed about this production. Although stock market and financial knowledge were perhaps less accessible back then.

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Working Girl

1988 | 1h 53m | Comedy Drama

Nominated for five Academy Awards in 1989 and six Golden Globes, the movie resonated with both the general public and the professionals; starring Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, and Melanie Griffith.

Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) is awaiting an exciting business career, taking evening classes to get a degree. She is initially hired as a secretary at a stockbroker but is aiming for more.

She then meets her new boss Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver), who is supportive of women's creativity and initiatives. Therefore, McGill regularly comes forward with business ideas, but they are often dismissed by her boss.

The perfect opportunity arises for the smart and ambitious McGill when she is asked to step in when her boss gets injured on a skiing trip. Having then access to her boss' notes, McGill realizes that Parker was planning on taking credit for one of her financial merger ideas.

Working Girl was also adapted into a television series for NBC in 1990, starring Sandra Bullock as Tess McGill. Another remake of the movie is rumored to be in development for Hulu, reportedly produced by Selena Gomez.

 

The Wizard of Lies

2017 | 2h 13m | Biography - Crime Drama

The rise and fall of Bernie Madoff (played by Robert De Niro), the businessman who started on Wall Street in the 60s, and continued to run the largest Ponzi scheme in history.

Sadly, this too is inspired by an infamous true story. This movie once more highlights the spectacular fraud by Bernie Madoff, now deceased. Barry Levinson directs Oscar winner De Niro's huge swindling; with Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife Ruth Madoff.

Another take on the story can be seen in the documentary Chasing Madoff, where an investigator and his team spent years trying to expose the scam, which took an estimated $18 billion from investors. Chasing Madoff documentary shows that the SEC and other institutions may have been able to act sooner if they followed up on the proof provided by the investigating collective.

Other movies on the scandal include "A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff" and "Bernie Madoff In His Own Words".

 

More Wall Street Movies:

By now you would have noticed the strong interest from filmmakers in Wall Street, with some brilliant stock market movies made over the years.

The financial world, and money in general, seem to draw people from around the world; perhaps even more so since the 2008 financial crisis.

Continue reading for some more movies and documentaries worth watching.

The Big Short

2015 | 2h 10m | Biography - Comedy Drama

A classic movie for many, Wall Street ignorance at its best, The Big Short follows a group of investors bet against the US mortgage market in 2006-2007. In their research, they discover how flawed and corrupt the housing market is, and foresee an imminent crash.

The film is a dramatization of the 2008 financial crisis. Michael Lewis's book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine", on which this movie is based, details the process by which four Wall Street traders decided to bet against the subprime mortgage market and won an astonishing amount of money when it collapsed.

It stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt, in what was one of Gosling's best roles as hedge fund manager Jared Vennett who shorted those very mortgages he advised banks to buy at inflated prices to make more money for himself (and for his clients).

The movie by Adam Mackay explains, with some guest star appearances teaching some Wall Street trader terms, the events which led up to the financial crisis, that left about 10 million Americans without homes. Hardly any finance economist or hedge fund manager predicted what became the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression in 1929.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street

2013 | 3h | Biography - Dark Comedy

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the Wolf of Wall Street is a movie of many controversies; but it became Scorsese's highest-grossing film.

Based on the true story of stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), who, together with his firm, lived a life of corruption and fraud, which ultimately led to his downfall.

Upon release, it was heavily criticized by some, describing the film as materialistic, encouraging extreme wealth, and that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. It even established a Guinness World Record for the most instances of swearing in a film!

During an interview, the real Jordan Belfort commented on how he and his former company, Stratton Oakmont, were portrayed and admitted that the movie did a great job at describing the "overall feeling" of those financial years.

In the stock market movies list, we have compiled for you here, the Wolf of Wall Street is the one with the most nominations in a variety of categories. List of accolades received by The Wolf of Wall Street

Another movie called The Wolf of Wall Street was originally made as a silent film in 1929.

Margin Call

2011 | 1h 47m | Drama - Thriller

Another take on the 2008 financial crisis, Margin Call 2011 follows a wall street investment bank over 24 hours, in the early days of the financial downfall.

In a similar plot line as The Big Short, the mechanisms of finance have been shown impressively, with a gripping storyline and its all-star cast including Demi Moore and Kevin Spacey.

Nominee to one Academy Award and 21 other awards nominations, the harrowing thriller Margin Call introduces Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto), a risk management analyst, who is given an electronic drive by Eric Dale (Stanley Tucci), the Head of the department.

The analyst begins to confirm Eric's working theory that their investment bank mortgage risk profiles are wrong, which could bankrupt the company. When the suggestion is to perform a fire sale of the problematic assets, Sam Rogers (Kevin Spacey) disagrees, pointing out that this inside job could cause major market instability, not to mention the reputation damage and huge amount of money at stake.

A margin call is a finance term for when an investor must increase the backing securities when their value falls below a certain threshold. It is one of the most technically accurate films on this list and provides realistic views of events that began during the financial crisis.

 

Wall Street

1987 | 2h 06m | Crime - Drama

Wall Street 1987, directed and co-written by Oliver Stone, is about Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), a young stockbroker who becomes involved with Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a wealthy -and greedy, corporate raider.

Bud is young and ambitious and would do whatever it takes to get to the top and work with the one he admires the most, Gordon Gekko. The latter, unscrupulous, would eventually give him a chance to work with him.

The pair uses every dirty trick known to Wall Street, including spying to get inside information, eventually raising suspicions from the SEC.

Despite being released in 1987, Wall Street still is considered one of the greatest financial films of all time, and a masterclass in insider trading!

Michael Douglas, as Gordon Gekko, has perhaps one of the most popular movie quotes ever: ''The point is, ladies and gentlemen, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, (...) money, (...) love, (and) knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA. Thank you very much.''

 

Boiler Room

2000 | 2h | Crime - Drama

The dark side of the stock market and the financial industry is surprisingly portrayed by an excellent cast in Boiler Room. The movie won the Jury Special Prize at the Deauville American Film Festival (France).

Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), 19, has opened an illegal casino in his apartment. One night, he hears about JT Marlin brokerage, a suburban investment firm, when his cousin, who came to play, brings along an associate from the firm. Seth feels pressure from his dad who doesn't approve of the casino.

He is promised to become rich by working at the brokerage company and feels he might redeem himself with his dad by getting a stable job. He soon discovers that his employer has illegal activities and that the company is in an area of unscrupulously greedy profits.

Indeed, JT Marlin practices the "pump and dump" selling technique, and cold-call investors to sell stock. Pump dumping is a form of securities fraud when the broker creates artificial demand in a stock (usually penny stock), creating speculation to then resell the cheaply-bought stock at the inflated price. Needless to say, this is unethical and illegal.

Whilst at the time of the movie Boiler Room 2000, stock transactions were primarily done over the phone, the internet has made it easier for scammers to practice pump and dump, through spam emails or on social media for example.

However, the film does a great job of showing how someone can get sucked into this kind of scam - what starts as an exciting opportunity quickly turns sour when one realizes that all he has been sold is hype and worthless investments.

 

Best Finance Documentaries:

Whilst a Wall Street movie usually tells the story in a fictionalized way, a financial documentary tends to stay closer to the facts. Anything revolving around money is always a hot topic; here is our finance documentary selection.

Inside Job

2010 | 1h 49m | Documentary

Inside Job is a 5-part documentary about the financial crisis of 2008, narrated by Matt Damon. It won an Academy Award in 2010 and was selected for a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival (France).

The film features interviews with bankers, economists, and politicians who talk about their roles in the crisis.

Inside Job documentary starts by analyzing Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and AIG's collapse, together with illustrating the highly deregulated banking sector in Iceland.

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Becoming Warren Buffett

2017 | 1h 30m | Documentary Film

Warren Buffett needs no introduction, with so many books written about the one widely regarded as one of the most influential and successful investors of the 20th Century.

This inspirational documentary film follows the evolution of the numbers-obsessed Nebraska student into the influential investor he became, all while showing recognition to the people who have helped him grow.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

2005 | 1h 50m | Documentary Film

This documentary shows the rise and fall of Enron Corporation, perhaps one the most shocking examples of modern corporate greed and corruption.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is based on Bethany McLean’s book (a Fortune reporter) and directed by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney. The documentary tells the story of Enron and explains how those who worked there managed to get away with it for so long. In addition, it shows how their arrogance led them to build a complex system that was ultimately unsustainable.

Whilst most people would remember the headlines when the scandals first hit the news, the documentary Enron The Smartest Guys in the room strikingly shows how widespread the deception was, with interviews from former executives and employees.

 

Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve

2013 | 1h 44m | Documentary Film

The film explains the structures and history of the Federal Reserve, which supports stability in US financial markets. The documentary includes interviews with Paul Volcker (FED Chairman 1979-1987) and Janet Yelle (Chair of the Fed 2014-2018), as well as talks with popular investors and economists.

This documentary shows a critical view of the events surrounding the 2008 crisis and the recessions that followed. With the global pandemic, Central Banks around the world continue to play a vital role in supporting the economy and (trying to) keep control of inflation. Whilst this film was released a decade ago, the regulatory framework is unchanged.

 

The Corporation

2003 | 2h 25m | Documentary - History

The Corporation is a Canadian documentary about the nature of corporations, from history to modern days. The film poses several important questions on how corporations operate, how they are legally defined as ''persons'', and the impact this has on society and the environment.

The documentary begins by defining what makes an organization corporate by examining its structure and purpose. It describes how corporations evolved from small businesses owned by families into publicly traded firms with thousands or even millions of shareholders across the globe.

The film takes quite a critical stand on corporate business practices, backed up by interviews from affluent people such as Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Klein.

The international nature of companies, operating in many different territories, may lead to being detached from regional culture, without regard for consequences such as environmental damage or worker exploitation.

This was followed in 2020 by a sequel film The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel.

 

The Ascent of Money

2008 | 2h | Documentary

This television documentary was adapted from The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, written by Niall Ferguson, who was a Harvard professor at the time. The film won an International Emmy Award for Best Documentary in 2009.

In the Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson, who also presents the series, takes viewers on a global trek through the history of finance and money.

In his book, he had predicted a financial crisis as a result of the dire state of the world economy and in particular in the United States where too much credit was used.

 

Capitalism: A Love Story

2009 | 2h 07m | Documentary

Academy Award winner Michael Moore wrote, directed, and featured in the film Capitalism: A Love Story. The director has always been very critical of societal issues such as globalization, large wall street corporations, and capitalism overall.

The film starts with Moore reflecting on his childhood and how corporations were at the time. The prosperity back then benefitted every family's finance.

The documentary then focuses on the premises of the 2008 financial crisis, with some high-profile participants such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

We cover Senator Warren's personal finance guide in The 50/30/20 rule: how to budget your money more efficiently?

Capitalism: A Love Story describes Wall Street as a ''casino mentality'' and a crime scene. Michael Moore heads to Goldman Sachs headquarters asking for taxpayers' money back. A few months later, the bank would reimburse some of the money received through the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

 

The China Hustle

2017 | 1h 22m | Documentary

A shocking film describing China's presence on the American stock market; somewhat related to the dishonest practices shown in the Boiler Room movie, but the China Hustle is very real.

It all started in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis when investment firms looked at new ways to make money for their clients, as the US stock market was in disarray.

Enters China, promising Americans who want to get rich to participate in the "China growth story" by investing in Chinese companies. I will not reveal more than this but this is a must-watch for any Wall Street investor or finance professional.

 

Conclusion

These are just the tip of the iceberg for finance-themed movies, but we think that these 26 stand out from the rest. Whether you’re looking for a lighthearted comedy or something more serious, there’s something for everyone here. If you’ve seen any other good ones that we missed, let us know in the comments below!

 

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