It’s no surprise that films in the finance category are always trending long. They have broad appeal, speaking to two primary demographics. The first is the financial laypeople who enjoy such movies because they allow them a rare opportunity to make better sense of the world of financial markets, the stock markets, and trading while also being entertained. The second is the fans of finance, traders, and entrepreneurs that already live and breathe this world.
This second demographic of people has been growing rapidly in recent years thanks to the democratisation of online trading that has come from online services providing trading tools and online training services to people that were previously excluded from financial markets. While in the past, you needed connections or a job at an exclusive investment bank to get access to derivatives, today’s traders can simply use a smartphone or computer and have hundreds of instruments at their fingertips.
No matter which of these groups you fall into, if you’re looking for some new finance movies to watch, here are some of the best options.
Wall Street (1987)
Greed is good, at least if you ask Gordan Gekko, a stereotypical corporate raider from the 1980s who was ruthless about making money, even if it came at other people’s expense. Played by Michael Douglas, Gekko epitomises many of the biggest Wall Street stereotypes we have today.
Wall Street follows Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, a young trader hungry to boost his career in finance. Like many aspiring traders, even today, Fox quickly realises that it’s a tough job climbing the very greasy pole that is Wall Street. Still, he eventually finds himself an introduction to Gekko.
This begins a bumpy roller coaster journey for Fox, leaving him with difficult choices to make — choosing between his hunger for success and a desire to do the right thing.
A remake was released in 2010, but the original is still, by far, the best of the two.
The Big Short (2015)
Released in 2015, The Big Short is a film that tells the true story of the people who accurately predicted the crash of the housing bubble in the late 2000s. It brings together three stories, all of which are mostly true, of three separate investing firms and hedge funds. The most famous of these is Scion Capital which employed Michael Burry, who, despite a lot of angry investors demanding their money back and smug bankers who thought they knew better, opened very large short positions.
These short positions, which were against all market consensus at the time, were based on a belief that the housing market would crash when a large number of subprime mortgages would go into default following the end of their promotional interest periods. In hindsight, this was the obvious move, but the film shows how much emotional pressure traders can be placed under when opening counter-consensus positions.
The Big Short has been widely praised for explaining complicated financial elements in a very easy-to-understand way, making it a must-watch for everyone.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Perhaps the most famous financial movie of them all, The Wolf of Wall Street, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, tells the story of Belfort’s rise and fall. Like most finance movies, it starts out with Belfort at the start of his career before he’s immediately let go after his new employer collapses.
This leaves him with few options and he goes to work at a “boiler room” brokerage firm where he quickly proves that he has the gift of the gab. Things quickly escalate from here, with Belfort setting up his own firm and recruiting many other hungry traders desperate to make it.
Things get out of control on both a personal and professional level for Belfort, with several famous scenes depicting the way his life falls apart.
It’s a humorous movie that can provide lessons to traders about general terminology but also of the risks and pitfalls that come from not following best practice and being too single-minded.