The Top 10 Movies About Business & Money

Currently I’m hooked on the TV-series ‘Billions’, subtitled ‘Power Is The Ultimate Currency’.

It’s a fascinating power struggle in the ego-driven world of high finance between a highly successful hedge fund manager (who 15 years ago was the only 9/11-survivor of his company) and the US Attorney who is determined to proof that insider trading and bribery is the true source of the manager’s wealth and power.

That’s why I thought to compile a list of 10 worth watching movies about business, money & more over a rainy weekend:

Wall Street (1987)
Oliver Stone’s film, starring Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas on insider trading, deceit, greed and excess is the ‘classic’ money-movie. And Douglas’ line ‘greed is good’ summarizes the 80s feeling perfectly.

What we can learn from it: This complex drama will have you thinking deeply about the heyday of ridiculous excess of the ‘80s and how greed can propel crooked acts.


Boiler Room (2000)
A college dropout gets a job as a broker for a suburban investment firm, which puts him on the fast track to success, but the job might not be as legitimate as it sounds.

What we can learn from it: Even when you are intelligent and ambitious, there is no shortcut to become successful in business; greed and corruption will destroy your career.


The Pursuit of Happiness (2006)
Based on the true story of one man’s struggle with homelessness, The Pursuit of Happiness chronicles Chris Gardner (played by Will Smith) a down-and-out salesman who is on the brink of a major career change. When his wife leaves him, Gardner finds himself strapped with his young son, an eviction notice, and a prestigious but unpaid internship at a stock brokerage. He works for a more promising future as he and his son live on the streets and are shuffled in and out of homeless shelters.

What we can learn from it: If you hit a low in life, with faith and perseverance, all things are possible. Just hang in there.


Trading Places (1983)
When a bet is wagered between two millionaires, street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) unknowingly swaps places with pampered, prissy Wall Street commodities broker Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Ackroyd) and takes over his privileged life as part of a one-dollar bet.

What we can learn from it: To really understand how the other half lives, try being in their shoes for a day , metaphorically, if not literally.


The Money Pit (1986)
Forced out of their old home, a young couple (Tom Hanks and Shelley Long) thinks they scored a major deal when they found and bought a gorgeous mansion away from the city on Long Island. Until they move in and it falls apart.. Their attempts at fixing it up lead to greater disaster and more wasted money.

What we can learn from it: It’s foolish to keep dumping money into an endeavor that is just eating up your funds. Sometimes it’s best to just let it go. Also when it comes to real estate, if the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. There are hardly deals when it comes to buying or renting property; you really do get what you pay for.


Tin Men (1987)
Baltimore, 1963. Ernest Tilley played by Danny DeVito and Bill “BB” Babowsky (Richard Dreyfuss) are door-to-door salesmen for aluminium siding products. Working for two competing companies, the ‘tin men’ are prepared to do almost anything – legal or illegal – to close a sale. The movie provides a great soundtrack on top of it.

What we can learn from it: In case you missed it, there has been a world before e-commerce with real salesman using both classy and crude selling tricks to close a deal. And even in a prolonged sales slump, hang in, don’t mess with the IRS and keep your wife happy.


Brewster’s Millions (1985)
What would you do if you needed to spend $30 million within 30 days to inherit $300 million, and you couldn’t tell anyone about it? That’s the dilemma faced by minor league baseball player Monty Brewster.

What we can learn from it: It’s pretty ridiculous and illogical to squander $30 million to make $300 million. Hate to be a buzz kill, but you’ll need to put that money toward investments to make it grow, not buy fancy toys.


It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
This beloved classic Christmas film starring Jimmy Stewart is still poignant and relevant today. A guardian angel shows a man who is contemplating suicide what life would’ve been like for the people around him if he had never been born.

What we can learn from it: It isn’t the end of the world if you make a money mistake or have a lot of debt. Remember that you are greater than your money; it’s who you are as a human being and the impact you make in other people’s lives that are most important.


Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
How far would you go to win a contest if your job is on the line? The movie adaption of David Mamet’s play with an allstar line-up (Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey) follows s group of salesmen over a 48 hour period in a real estate office as they compete in a sales contest with some crazy incentives. Don’t expect too much action, but great acting and sharp dialogues: ‘Put that coffee down!! Coffee’s for closers only’.

What we can learn from it: If you are in for a sales career, after this movie you know that language and talk are vital for survival.


Margin Call (2011)

Follows the key people at an unnamed investment bank (the set up reminds of Goldman Sachs) over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis. ‘Margin Call’ is the fictional movie that shows the reality in finance most accurate.

What we can learn from it: Margin Call illustrates that top managers in the financial industry did not under­stand their own investment products and therefore gave a sh.. about proper risk management that ultimatley triggered the global financial crisis.


Out of the fictional movie competition but always worth to see is Inside Job (2010), an in-depth look at the 2008 global economic crisis and the factors that led to the financial meltdown. Or Too Big To Fail (2011), a television drama based on a non-fiction book, that offers some good explanation how the US mortgage crisis emerged to a global financial collapse

Then I would add the documentary Four Horsemen (2012). The film criticizes the system of fractional reserve banking, debt-based economy and political lobbying by banks, which it regards as a serious threat to Western civilization. Last but not least, watch The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) that examines the incredible collapse of Enron just months after being named the ‘most admired’ corporation by Fortune magazine.


Michael Douglas as the greedy and ruthless trader Gordon Gekko in ‘Wall Street

gordon gekko

Margin Call. Even if risk-management is not your cup of tea, watch it and enjoy the fantastic performance of Jeremy Irons as CEO John Tuld: ‘Be first, be smarter or cheat‘ –

margin call
You’ll have fun and learn about insider trading and the commodity markets. Eddie Murphy, Jamie Lee Curtis and Dan Aykroyd in ‘Trading Places‘.

trading places

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