Looking for a relaxing and entertaining way to learn about money and finance? Add one of the ten must-see movies about money listed in this article to your list, or, better yet, watch one tonight!
The reason I got onto the topic of movies about money is because last weekend our daughter wanted to have a movie night. We rotate who gets to pick the flick. So, last weekend she chose the new Cinderella movie (Billy Porter transforming to the Fairy Godmother from a monarch was everything!).
It made me realize, though, that we haven’t watched any movies about money lately, and there are some really great ones to watch! So, here is my roundup of ten movies about money that you must see!
1. The Pursuit of Happyness
This has to be the movie that screams the most closely to what it is we are about here at MPower Co. In this movie, Chris Gardner (Will Smith) uses his life savings to buy medical equipment to sell. That doesn’t work out, so he turns around and becomes an intern at a financial firm. He is clearly a non-traditional intern, but he excels. Gardner is resilient, hard-working, and more. It is a bit of a tear jerker (I must admit I’m a softie), but if you’ve not seen this movie stop what you are doing and watch it.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
This movie is based on a real story, which is something I love. It is a classic and also long, so don’t start this one at 9:00 at night if you’re not a late owl!
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a broker on Wall Street. He runs what is called a boiler room, where basically they run a pump and dump scheme. Don’t know what that is, but want to learn about it? Head over to this post about pump and dump schemes! Belfort lives a high roller lifestyle. The movie is entertaining, and if you want to see what my life was like as an auditor before MPower Co (you’ll see a couple of minutes of what it was like!).
3. The Big Short
The Big Short is my third of ten movies about money that you must see. We all lived through the financial crisis of 2008, but do we really have a good understanding of what led to it?
In The Big Short, has a star-studded cast with Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and more. The movie is about how some individuals took advantage and made a significant amount of money leading up to the financial crisis, as they were able to use options trading to profit off of subprime loans and the downward trending housing market. Options trading, and shorting stock, is a very complex topic, and in the financial world is a lesser known trading strategy. This movie does a really nice job of explaining them in an understandable way using unconventional techniques.
So, if you love learning about trading strategies, this may be a great one for you!
4. The China Hustle
The China Hustle is my nerdy choice on this list of must-see movies about money. It is actually a documentary, not a classic movie. That may deter you right there, or it may spark more interest. It’s probably one of the lesser known options on this list.
Basically what this documentary is about is how Chinese companies commit securities fraud in the U.S. financial markets. It is a story about how financial firms in the U.S. help Chinese companies become listed on U.S. exchanges, after which a pump and dump scheme is carried out so that financial institutions and Chinese corporations can make money and leave investors in the U.S. holding shares of worthless companies. It is a documentary that points out things to look for and to avoid as an investor.
5. Boiler Room
I talked about boiler rooms with Wolf of Wall Street. This movie is a little older than Wolf of Wall Street, but gives a much more detailed picture of what a Boiler Room really is, which is why this movie makes this list! It’s also a great date-night movie and probably one of the most classic of all movies about money. It is likely my number 1 must-see (why I didn’t put it first on this list, I have no idea!).
The movie follows a young guy named Seth who isn’t making it according to his parents standards. Investment professionals give him a job (one of them is played by Ben Affleck) and get him into cold calling people to get them to invest in certain stocks. Seth realizes what he’s doing is not right, and then a whole plot to get money back for the people out of millions of dollars comes into play. There are some wild turns in this drama at the end that aren’t based on any true story, but are entertaining to say the least!
6. American Psycho
If you are a fan of thrillers, this is your must-see movie on this list. The main character is played by Christian Bale and he is an investment banker (they’re responsible for helping companies go public, helping companies merge together, and more). Of all of the movies, this one is probably one of the least heavy when it comes to financial content, but is a classic movie all around which is why it is one of my top 10 must-see movies about money!
You’re going to think that only like four or five guys play roles in movies about money, but that isn’t true. There is some variety, but in Moneyball we are back to Brad Pitt who plays a baseball coach.
Moneyball is based on the true story of the Oakland Athletics baseball team that revolutionized baseball into what we know it today. It is really about maximizing what you have using economics and numbers. It is about learning to do more with less. It’s a great lesson using sports to tell the story.
8. The Gambler
This movie doesn’t promote gambling in any way. In fact, it illustrates that gambling is a loser’s game. The movie promotes the fact that the best thing we can do is make sound, long-term financial choices and that they’ll return more in the long run. Mark Whalberg, John Goodman, and Brie Larson, are a few of the main actors in this movie, which in and of itself makes this a must-see movie!
9. In Time
Do you like science fiction? If so, this may be your movie! In Time is about a world where people (Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Matt Bomer, Johnny Galecki) stop aging at 25 and are given a clock that counts down how much longer the person has to live. Time becomes the currency and living a long life can be a blessing and a curse. I love this movie for this list because making money time changes the way we think about life and money completely.
10. The Upside
I saved the funniest for last! If nothing sounds good to you, perhaps it’s because you are looking for a comedy. This is technically a drama-comedy, but if you don’t laugh during this movie I will be shocked!
Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) becomes a caretaker for Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston). This movie is all about how sometimes we can be in the right place at the right time, and it can make all of the difference. It also sends the message that having strong relationships can be even more valuable than the money we have in our bank accounts.
Bonus! The Honorable Mention to this List of Movies About Money: The Accountant
I wanted to give one bonus, because why not! This movie stars Ben Affleck as Christian Wolff. He is autistic and brilliant. He works as an investigator trying to uncover money laundering within a corporation. This movie is more contemporary than some of the others on this list, so perhaps you can find it on a streaming service you already have access to much easier. It is a great example of the audit work I used to do, and is fun to watch. It’s suspenseful. It’s more in the realm of accounting than personal finance, so that is why it is only an honorable mention on my list.
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