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Wall Street is a place that people love to hate.
The Wall Street of today, however, could not be further from the one we know and fear: it’s a trillion-dollar industry with innovation brewing in every corner. You may have heard about these innovations on The Big Short or Moneyball but you might want to broaden your horizons when it comes to movies that feature this major American institution.
While learning about money, finances, and the stock market may or may not be your thing, there is plenty to learn while being classically entertained.
When you’re studying for the MCAT, going through a financial audit, or watching skyrocketing inflation happening before you, it can be hard to find films that accurately portray modern finance.
But Wall Street is full of memorable characters and interesting situations with plenty of twists and turns to keep your attention.
Whether you’re looking for movies about trading on Wall Street or movies about money itself, here are 25 classics worth watching over and over again!
Followed by a list of the best documentaries on stock market trading.
Best Movies About Wall Street
Plenty of movies have been made about Wall Street over the years. There is a fascination with the life of a trader and how it intersects with business.
The order dated from the oldest movie to the most recent film.
Here are 25 of the best films set at the intersection between finance and our culture:
1. “Edison, the Man” (1940)
The movie is about the life of Thomas Edison, one of the most famous inventors in history.
The main character is played by Spencer Tracy, who does a great job portraying businessman Thomas A. Edison. The story follows Edison’s journey from being a stockbroker on Wall Street to becoming one of the most famous inventors in history.
Most of the film’s script is fictionalized or exaggerated, it should be viewed as such.
2. “Citizen Kane” (1941)
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film directed by, produced by, and starring Orson Welles. The picture was Welles’s first feature film. The screenplay, written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles, was based on the life of William Randolph Hearst.
Citizen Kane helped form the idea that there should be a cultural shift in how we view Wall Street. It is considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made because it’s highly innovative, artistic, and technical with many different themes being explored throughout its runtime.
3. “It’s A Wonderful Life” (1946)
“It’s A Wonderful Life” is a classic movie for the generations.
The protagonist of the movie is George Bailey. The movie revolves around the idea that if George Bailey never existed, life would be much worse off. This film is a classic and a must-watch for anyone interested in finance or business.
Ultimately, he learns some valuable lessons about life and himself.
4. “Trading Places” (1983)
“Trading Places” is the funniest movie about Wall Street. The plot revolves around how one man’s fall from Wall Street is another man’s blessing.
It’s a classic movie about Wall Street that is still relevant today. The film follows the story of two men whose lives are drastically changed when they’re made the subject of a bet on Wall Street. It stars Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, Denholm Elliott, and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Released in 1983, Trading Places was a box-office success. Earning over $90 million, the film became the fourth-highest-grossing film of that year in the United States and Canada. Furthermore, it was critically acclaimed for its humor and cast.
John Landis directed “Trading Places” and it is an absolute classic. Watching Murphy talk about futures and markets is hilarious.
5. “Working Girl” (1988)
“Working Girl” is a 1986 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols and written by Kevin Wade. The film stars Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin, and Joan Cusack. It received many Academy Award nominations in 1989, including Best Picture and Best Actress (for Griffith).
The story follows Tess McGill (Griffith), an ambitious secretary who pitches a profitable idea to her boss only to have her boss take credit. After her boss (Weaver) is out with a medical injury, Tess teams up with investment banker Jack Trainer (Ford) to make a big deal. Things get complicated when her boss comes back and discovers what Tess has been up to.
“Working Girl” was praised by critics upon release and became a box office success. It grossed over $96 million worldwide against its $13 million budget.
The idea for Working Girl came when writer Kevin Wade and producer Douglas Wick were in New York City together in 1984 and noticed throngs of career women walking to work while carrying their high heels (source).
6. “Wall Street” (1987)
“Wall Street” is a 1987 American drama film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, and Daryl Hannah. The film tells the story of Bud Fox (Sheen), a young stockbroker who wants to make it big in the world of finance.
An eager and inexperienced stockbroker is willing to do anything to get ahead, including going through an unscrupulous shady corporate raider who takes the young-in-awe under his wing.
The movie was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Michael Douglas).
A sequel titled “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” was released 23 years later.
7. “Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990)
“Bonfire of the Vanities” is a movie that captures the class-consciousness of 1980s New York.
The film focuses on Wall Street and New York City’s stratification issues. In particular, it focuses on the Manhattan elite and how they are separated from other social classes in the city.
The film is based on a book by Tom Wolfe, who was inspired by his own experiences living in Manhattan during that time period.
8. “Other People’s Money” (1991)
Other People’s Money is a 1991 American comedy-drama film directed by Norman Jewison and starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck, and Penelope Ann Miller. DeVito plays a ruthless businessman who buys companies and sells off their assets to make him rich.
Along the way, this corporate raider falls in love with the wife’s daughter, who is a lawyer. An avid lover of this woman, the corporate raider attempts to win her heart through legal maneuvering.
9. “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992)
Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 American drama film adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross. The film was directed by James Foley and stars Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, and Kevin Spacey.
“Glengarry Glen Ross” is a movie about the incentives of real estate salesman. This drama-filled movie shows what people will do to close a sale.
10. “Barbarians at the Gate” (1993)
Barbarians at the Gate is a 1993 American drama made-for-TV movie based on the book of the same name by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar. The film was directed by Glenn Jordan and stars James Garner as H. Ross Perot, Peter Riegert as Henry Kravis, and Swoosie Kurtz as Ruth Harkness.
The film tells the story of a leveraged buyout between two Wall Street insiders who battle for control over a company. It is considered one of the best movies about Wall Street because it provides an inside look at how these deals are made.
11. “The Associate” (1996)
The Associate is an American comedy movie released in 1996.
Investment banker Laurel Ayres (Whoopi Goldberg) is an associate for an investment firm who has great advice but doesn’t get the respect she deserves because she is a black woman.
Money is power, so she uses a white man as her partner. The protagonist has great advice but no one will take it seriously because she’s a woman of color with an African American sounding name. To prove her worth, the protagonist creates a fictional white male figure to be her business partner to make people listen to her more than they would otherwise.
12. “Rogue Trader” (1999)
Rogue Trader is a 1999 British drama film directed by James Dearden and starring Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel. It is based on the true story of Nick Leeson, a British trader who caused £800 million or about $1 billion in losses through unauthorized trades in 1987, and his attempt to cover up his losses by falsifying account documents.
Nick reads in the newspaper that the company went bankrupt and then realizes the severity of his losses. Him and his wife then decided to go back to London, but Nick is arrested en route from Frankfurt. Finally, Nick is extradited to Singapore where he is sentenced to six and a half years in prison.
13. “American Psycho” (2000)
American Psycho is a satirical psychological horror film that was released in 2000 and is based on the novel of the same name by Bret Easton Ellis.
The film stars Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Chloë Sevigny, Samantha Mathis, Cara Seymour, Justin Theroux, and Reese Witherspoon. It debuted at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2000, and was released theatrically on April 14, 2000.
American Psycho is a movie about Patrick Bateman, a successful Wall Street executive with an inner darkness that leads him to commit heinous crimes. The film has developed a cult following over the years and is now considered a classic. Additionally, it has made a strong presence in contemporary meme culture.
A direct-to-video sequel, “American Psycho 2” was released in 2002.
14. “Boiler Room” (2000)
Boiler Room is a movie about Wall Street corruption. It stars Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, and Jamie Kennedy.
This movie is about a young man, played by Giovanni Ribisi, who ran an unlicensed casino, but wasn’t making the living his father, a New York City judge wanted. So, with the promise of being a millionaire, he becomes a stockbroker in a brokerage firm.
In fact, the brokerage firm was running Pump and Dump schemes – investment scams that involve artificially inflating the price of stocks before dumping them onto uninformed investors.
The movie was met with mixed reviews by critics but audiences seemed to enjoy it more. I mean it did star Ben Affleck.
15. “The Bank” (2001)
This Australian movie “The Bank” is about finance software that predicts stock market trends.
This drama-thriller heist film was directed by Frank Oz and written by Paul Schrader. The critical response was mixed but praised its acting performances, particularly from Al Pacino and Jennifer Wright Penn.
16. “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)
“The Pursuit of Happyness” is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on the life of Chris Gardner. It tells the story of how he rose from homelessness to Wall Street success. The movie was directed by Gabriele Muccino and stars Will Smith in the leading role. It grossed over $307 million worldwide, making it one of Smith’s highest-grossing movies. In 2006, Will Smith was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Gardner.
The movie is set in San Francisco, California, and follows Gardner’s trials and tribulations as he strives to become a successful stockbroker. Despite being homeless with a young son, he never gives up on his dream. The film finishes with him landing a job at Dean Witter Reynolds and becoming a millionaire five years later.
Although “The Pursuit of Happyness” is not technically about Wall Street, it is an excellent depiction of what it takes to be successful in this field – grit, determination, and perseverance in the face of adversity.
17. “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” (2010)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is a 2010 American drama film directed by Oliver Stone. It is a sequel to Wall Street (1987), which was also directed by Stone. The film stars Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, and Carey Mulligan.
The movie begins with the release of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) from prison, where he has been for eight years for insider trading and securities fraud. He immediately goes to see his future son-in-law, Jacob (Shia LaBeouf), who is now working on Wall Street. Gordon helps Jacob get back at the man who screwed his mentor’s firm over.
The movie covers the events leading up to the financial crisis of 2008 and explores how it affects individuals, society, and culture. The firm was highly successful at the box office earning more than $134 million worldwide.
18. “Margin Call” (2011)
Margin Call is a movie about Wall Street and bankers. It is considered a classic, and it was released in 2011. The banker in the movie has created a financial model that shows the firm will be completely underwater, but before he can show anyone else, he gets fired. He hands his model off to a junior banker who then has to save everything from this one data point on his laptop in the middle of the night while everyone is asleep.
Everyone wonders if “Margin Call” is a true story. While there is no specific person or company name, it rings true of what happened in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
19. “Too Big To Fail” (2011)
“Too Big To Fail” is a 2011 HBO adaptation of the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin. The movie covers the 2008 financial crisis and follows bankers who meet behind closed doors with regulators to negotiate the federal bailout of the financial industry.
The film was able to feature a parade of stars who played different bank and investment bigwigs. While it’s based on true events, there are some dramatizations in order to make for a more compelling film.
It’s an interesting look at how Wall Street operates and what happens when things go wrong.
20. “Cosmopolis” (2012)
“Cosmopolis” is a movie starring Robert Pattinson about an incident involving currency speculation. The plot of the movie is quite complicated and may leave viewers scratching their heads as to what just happened.
The protagonist, Eric Packer, is a Wall Street investor who finds himself in the middle of an unexpected incident while in New York City. His wife and lover are introduced throughout the story but it doesn’t make sense why they would be in New York City together.
This movie has a lot of intrigues that will keep you on your toes as you weave through his personal life and the emotional rollercoaster of trading!
21. “Arbitrage” (2012)
“Arbitrage” is a movie about an ambitious hedge fund manager who tries to sell his company before anyone finds out he’s cooked the books. The plot involves a mistress accidentally dying in a car accident and its cover-up, with help from an unlikely source.
The movie is well acted and suspenseful and provides great insight into the world of high finance.
22. “The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 American biographical black comedy crime film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter, based on the memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort, Margot Robbie as his wife Naomi Lapaglia, Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff, and Kyle Chandler as Patrick Denham.
This true story of Jordan Belfort, who starts his own company in the early 1990s and quickly grows their company – more importantly their status in the trading community on Wall Street. At the same time, so do their substance abuse and lies. Belfort is named the Wolf of Wall Street by Forbes Magazine. Soon after, the FBI look into Belfort’s trading schemes…
Now, you will have to finish the movie to see what happens.
23. “The Big Short” (2015)
The Big Short is a movie about the 2008 financial crisis and Michael Burry’s role in it. It was directed by Adam McKay and stars the brilliant ensemble cast in this movie of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and Marisa Tomei. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (source).
Viewers praise the film for being entertaining and broad. It is among the top Wall Street movies.
Not many people are brave enough to go against the market trends and big banks except for Michael Burry. Who came out ahead on the big short in the housing market?
24. “Money Monster” (2016)
George Clooney and Julia Roberts team up in this financial thriller as TV show hosts who are taken hostage at gunpoint due to an irate investor. There is a tense standoff taking place on live television.
The film was directed by Jodie Foster and received mixed reviews, but still did well at the box office.
25. “The Wizard Of Lies” (2017)
The Wizard of Lies is a 2017 American biographical drama film about the fall of Bernie Madoff. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was highly watched across the world as it was the largest spam in US history as he robbed at least $65 billion from unknowning victims. The film stars Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff, Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff, Alessandro Nivola as Mark Madoff, Nathan Darrow as Andrew Madoff, and Kristen Connolly as Catherine Hooper.
The film shows how the family of Bernie Madoff falls apart amidst the scandal.
“Bernie Madoff” is a biopic about the infamous Ponzi schemer who was jailed for orchestrating one of history’s largest financial pyramids. The film utilizes Robert DeNiro as Bernie Madoff, and tells the story from his perspective. Critics praised the film for being powerful.
What movies are about Wall Street?
There are a lot of great movies about Wall Street, but it can be hard to pick the best ones.
Which movie is based on stock market? Much Watch Ones
These movies tell the story of people who have made or lost a lot of money trading stocks and other investments. They offer a fascinating look at what happens behind the scenes on Wall Street, and they can be very educational for anyone interested in investing.
What Are the Top 3 Hedge Funds Movies to Watch?
These movies offer a fascinating look into the world of high finance and provide an interesting perspective on the industry. Hedge funds can be very profitable, but they can also be risky. Watch these films to learn more about the risks involved in this kind of investing, as well as the rewards.
Best Finance Documentaries
Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, film buffs have been obsessed with anything related to Wall Street.
From the “Trader” to the “Inside Job”, Hollywood seems ready to take on the global financial sector.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best finance-related documentaries available to watch.
1. “Trader” (1987)
In the 1987 film “TRADER,” Paul Tudor Jones II offers a highly charged look at what it takes to make it as a Wall Street trader. The film was shot before the October 1987 crash, so it is an interesting historical artifact.
It delivers a rarely seen view of this marketplace and explains the workings of this frantic, highly charged area. This film is important because it captures America as it nears the end of its 200-year bull market.
“Trader” is a fascinating look into the minds of traders and their thought processes. It provides an inside look at the strategies that traders use to make money and how they think about the markets. If you are interested in learning about trading or want to get a better understanding of how it works, then Trader is a must-read documentary.
2. “The Trillion Dollar Bet” (2000)
The Trillion Dollar Bet is a documentary about a magic formula, specifically the Black–Scholes–Merton formula, which was dreamed to reduce risk in the stock market.
It is an interesting film because it portrays Wall Street in a way that many people have never seen before. As they started to use this “dream” formula, they started losing huge amounts of investments each day. The movie focuses on the rise and fall of hedge funds, with a specific focus on the 1994-1998 period when one of them went bankrupt.
The documentary will interest many people who are interested in finance, economics, and investing.
3. The Corporation (2003)
“The Corporation” is a documentary film written by Joel Bakan, and directed by Mark Achbar and Jennifer Abbott.
Released in 2003, the film examines the nature of the modern corporation, considering its legal status as a “person”, and how this affects different aspects of corporate behavior. The film won numerous awards including at the Sundance Film Festival (source).
And check out the latest… The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel
4. Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
The film “Enron – The Smartest Guys in the Room” tells the story of Enron, a company that was involved in accounting fraud and created $30 billion worth of debts. Enron is often seen as an example of corporate corruption and the Enron incident is often considered the best example of that.
This documentary tells the story of how Enron became one of the largest companies in America before its collapse.
Critics reviewed the film positively and it also received good ratings from audiences.
5. Wall Street Warriors (Season 1-3 | 2006)
If you’re looking for a reality TV series that will take you inside the fascinating and high-pressure world of Wall Street, look no further than “Wall Street Warriors”.
The show follows the lives of those working on Wall Street – from traders to investment bankers to hedge fund managers.
There are 3 seasons, with each season consisting of 26 episodes. So whether you’re looking for an hour of entertainment or you want to learn more about the financial industry, “Wall Street Warriors” has something for you.
6. The Ascent of Money (2008)
The documentary traces the origins of money, credit, and banking throughout history.
The title is interesting because it provides a comprehensive overview of how money has evolved over time. The documentary also interviews experts from various financial backgrounds, which makes it an insightful watch for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of finance.
The Ascent of Money is a 2008 documentary film written and directed by Michael Lewis and won an International Emmy Award.
7. Floored (2009)
The documentary focuses on the futures exchange in Chicago, and how digitization and computerization are changing trading floor practices. It features interviews with various traders who offer their insights into this rapidly-changing industry.
8. Million Dollar Traders (2009) – Mini Series
These ordinary traders did better than the pros. Some of the best traders included a student, a soldier, and a single mother of 2 children. They may have lacked experience, but they made up for it with guts and determination.
The reality mini-series happens during the recession of 2008 – also known as not a great time to be a trader. As the market falls, the story becomes personal for many of these non-traditional traders.
In fact, this is similar to what Teri Ijeoma is doing today.
9. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
Capitalism: A Love Story is a 2009 documentary film written and directed by Michael Moore. The film examines the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the subsequent economic recession.
The criticism in Capitalism: A Love Story is clearly pointed at businesses that take risks for profit-led motives, with public funds ultimately securing the risk. For example, Moore interviews former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, asking how much money he made while his company was losing $8 billion per quarter.
Moore interviews many too financial gurus to ask the question – What is America’s cost for its love of capitalism?
10. “Inside Job” (2010)
Inside Job is a made-for-television documentary about the Fall 2008 financial crisis.
This documentary tackles the 2008 financial collapse in a way that is easily digestible, featuring interviews with experts in the field of finance. The film takes a look at some of the factors which led to the Great Recession, such as deregulation and Wall Street executives going unpunished.
The film walks viewers through topics such as extreme consolidated power on Wall Street, questionable banking practices which helped create the housing bubble, and federal regulators’ bailout that kept most big banks afloat after the 2008 financial collapse.
The movie was directed by Charles Ferguson, and it won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2011.
Most Acclaimed Wall Street Movies
Many people ask, is there any movie on stock market? In fact, there are plenty!
In fact, there is probably a new flourish of movies being made about the economic effects from 2020 onward.
These are the top Wall Street Movies you must watch!
- “It’s a Wonderful Life“
- “Wall Street“
- “Working Girl“
- “Trading Places“
- “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps“
- “Boiler Room“
- “Margin Call“
- “The Pursuit of Happyness“
- “Too Big to Fail“
- “The Big Short“
- “The Wolf of Wall Street“
What is your favorite movie about wall street?
Everyone will have their favorite pick!
Start a movie club and discuss which Wall Street movies. This is a great way to understand the impact of what is going on in the financial markets.
Which Must Watch Stock Market Movies are on Your List?
These movies and documentaries are incredibly informative to find out what is happening on Wall Street and how things are handled.
They offer great insights into what can happen when things go wrong on Wall Street. If you’re interested in finance or investment banking, I highly recommend watching these movies!
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