Another day, another news article about the looming recession — whether you're into finance or not, there's no way around it. And with the legendary Wall Street guru Michael Burry from The Big Short continuing to warn us about the upcoming economic crash, there's no better time to line up some great financial movies like The Big Short.
Starring Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Christian Bale, The Big Short is based on real-life events about the housing bubble that led to the financial crisis of 2008. The focus is on the finance world's unnecessary over-complication to the point where even insiders couldn't foresee the crash, except for a few, including investor Michael Burry. So, if credit default swaps and subprime mortgages aren't your thing, the movie breaks down complicated financial jargon to us regular folk, using celebrities like chef Anthony Bourdain and Margot Robbie in a bubble bath to break down key terms.
If you enjoyed watching The Big Short, you'll also like this list of financial movies like The Big Short, where power-hungry Wall Street brokers battle for their prestige in the pursuit of wealth, cutting no slack to anyone that gets in their way. Nevertheless, these films and documentaries equally tackle the issue of blind capitalism and its toxicity over time.
Without further ado, compiled below a list of 10 movies like The Big Short.
Here are 10 more finance-related movies like The Big Short
10. Startup.com (2001)
Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (2500+ ratings)
If you enjoy movies about the financial crisis like The Big Short, you'd also appreciate Startup.com. It is a film about another major economic crisis in US history — the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, when VC’s were investing blindly in Internet companies built on ideas rather than solid business plans.
Startup.com centers around the rise and fall of Internet companies in the late 90s and early noughties, examining the collapse of seemingly high-flying startups during the World Wide Web invention days. Zooming into one specific company, GovWorks.com, Kaleil Tuzman, and Tom Herman set up an online business with a great idea but no actual plan to make the website profitable, with the main focus on getting investments. Despite focusing on only one company, this documentary offers historical value. It serves as an excellent insight into the dot-com boom and bust.
Drawing parallels, the movie exhibits Internet revolutions like today's crypto rags-to-riches stories or the economics of unprofitable delivery apps running purely on funding. The dot-com bubble draws eerie similarities to the current crypto craze and the inflated instant wealth diminished by the economic realities — bankruptcies, layoffs, and sudden wealth evaporation.
9. Rogue Trader (1999)
Rotten Tomatoes: 52% (5000+ ratings)
Genre: Crime / Drama inspired by real-life events
Based on true events, Rogue Trader depicts how Nicholas Leeson, a derivatives trader from England, shows how he single-handedly collapsed the UK's oldest financial institution, Barings Bank, in 1995. Despite disappointing reviews and the slow pace of the movie, the plot is rather fascinating, making it worth the watch if you enjoyed the movie The Big Short.
After the initial success of risky yet profitable trades, Leeson, portrayed by Ewan McGregor, was sent to Singapore to set up the bank's futures trading operation. However, after his luck ran out, the cover-ups, uncontrollable gambling of customers' money, and illegal trading quickly spiraled and resulted in the bank's bankruptcy. Though not solely Leeson's fault, he was convicted of over six years in jail at 28 years old, admitting to two fraud charges.
8. American Psycho (2000)
Rotten Tomatoes: 85% (250,000+ ratings)
Genre: Fiction / Horror
I rarely watch horror movies, and there's little about finance in American Psycho, but this one stands out. If you have always wondered what life is like through the eyes of a corporate Wall Street sociopath, this is for you. Set in the late 1980s New York, a 27-year-old handsome Patrick Bateman, played by Christian Bale, is a wealthy investment banker with a dark, gruesome secret.
American Psycho elucidates the lives of the financial industry's elite and their disconnect with reality, especially in the 1980s Wall Street. Bateman - vain, egomaniac, narcissistic, into appearances and money, reflects on his inhuman side by wanting to get rid of all people not as successful as him, seemingly not a good fit for the life he wants to lead.
7. Boiler Room (2000)
Rotten Tomatoes: 78% (25,000+ ratings)
Genre: Drama inspired by true events
Those infuriated rather than entertained by the fraudulent financial schemes of coke-snorting Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street might appreciate this one a little more. Boiler Room is reportedly inspired by Jordan Belfort's company Stratton Oakmont scams but from the perspective of its employees. The move unravels the events from the angle of a junior stockbroker with a clear(ish) conscience, who soon comes to suspect something isn't quite right with the company's money-making ways.
Boiler Room shows the lavish lifestyles of loud, twenty-something brokers, screaming over each other on the phones selling penny stocks. Then, zooming in on Seth Davis, played by Giovanni Ribisi, a college dropout who gets on a fast track to success by getting a job as a broker for a penny stocks investment firm on Long Island. As with many other investment firms in the 80s (and probably still today), the brokerage company wasn't as legitimate as it first seemed, riddled with pump and dump schemes, defrauding unsuspecting investors.
6. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Capitalism: A Love Story is a documentary by the American filmmaker and left-wing activist Michael Moore, released in 2009. Relevant then, relevant now, about rampant capitalism at its breaking point. Moore's documentary explores the effects of corporate greed on the bigger part of society, unveiling the repercussions on people's everyday lives through interviewing ordinary people that are impacted the most.
Even though he takes a clear, if not a little overplayed, poor vs. rich view, it is a harsh truth and a reflection of the effects of unregulated capitalism in today's American society. A must-watch financial movie offering a powerful and remarkable insight into the effects of Wall Street's dishonesty and greed on the general population.
5. Inside Job (2010)
Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (25,000+ ratings)
With regulators and banks in cahoots and limited regulations in place, Inside Job is a riveting documentary revealing the corrupt practices of banks that led to the housing bubble and, in turn, the financial crisis of 2008. If you liked the movie The Big Short, this documentary of the same events, the financial crisis, illustrates what went on behind the scenes from the bank's perspective via interviews with industry insiders.
Spoiler alert: it also explains how the banks, despite causing the financial crisis in the first place, get bailed out. A must-watch to understand how greedy practices and shady deals of major banks caused the economy to collapse in 2008 — and how they got away with it.
4. Margin Call (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (10,000+ ratings)
Genre: Drama inspired by a true story
If you can't get enough of movies like The Big Short and wish to glimpse what happened during the financial crisis of 2008 from various angles, Margin Call is your choice. Even though reportedly not based on a specific story, it was inspired by the events directly before the Global Financial Crisis.
"There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat." The movie follows key executives of a large investment bank over 24 hours just before the stock market crashed on the 15th of September 2008. In a nutshell, the bank decided to knowingly sell worthless assets to unaware buyers to save themselves from bankruptcy, which is very similar to and probably inspired by what Goldman Sachs did during the financial crisis in 2008, reducing their share of mortgage-backed securities at the urging of two senior decision-makers.
3. Too Big to Fail (2011)
Rotten Tomatoes: 76% (1000+ ratings)
Genre: Biographical Drama
Even though Too Big to Fail doesn't make the best dramatization, it is good documentation of events of the most chilling economic crisis moments in history, and if you can't get enough of the events leading up to the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, this movie is for you.
Too Big to Fail clearly explicates the financial crisis chronicles, and for that, it has value. Based on the bestselling book by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Too Big To Fail offers an intimate look at the epochal financial crisis of 2008 and the powerful men and women who decided the fate of the world's economy in a matter of a few weeks. Centering on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the film goes the extra mile to examine the symbiotic relationship between Wall Street and Washington.
2. Wall Street (1987)
Rotten Tomatoes: 81% (50,000+ ratings)
"Greed is good. Greed works," a contradicting movie quote from the iconic Wall Street movie, the OG of all financial films. If you're into movies like The Big Short, it is a definite must-watch. Although I should warn you that the dialogue isn't as easy to follow, and there's a lot more financial lingo involved. However, it's a classic— a near-accurate depiction of Wall Street in the 80s — greed, profits, power, and hedonism.
The movie is about a young, ambitious, and driven stockbroker, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), who would do anything and everything to get to the top. Lured in by his counterpart Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), he resorts to insider trading and illegal schemes, trading his conscience for money and power. Although the film is to warn about the pitfalls of insider trading, it makes you want to explore your greedy side.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (100,000+ ratings)
Genre: Biographical Comedy / Drama
The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the most entertaining financial movies I've seen, with Jordan Belfort, high as a kite on quaaludes, crawling out of his crashed Lamborghini in style in his Nike Cortez’s, one of the best Nike sneakers moments in history. Even if you aren't even merely interested in finance, you just might enjoy this one. Based on the true story of former stockbroker Jordan Belfort, the real-life wolf of Wall Street, the film takes a comedy angle to traditionally boring topics.
Sex. Money. Power. Drugs. In 1987, Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) took an entry-level job at a Wall Street firm. While still in his 20s, Belfort founded his own firm, Stratton Oakmont. The movie depicts Belfort living his best life of insatiable greed, money, lavish parties, materialism, and overindulgence before getting sentenced for defrauding investors of millions via pump-and-dump schemes, together with his trusted lieutenant Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and a merry band of brokers.
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