Wall Street is not just a place in New York City. It’s a term to sums up so much about America. So it’s no surprise there’s been a fair number of movies about it over the decades. Here we’re going to list some of the best movies about Wall Street in the last 40 years.
Despite recent challenges, Wall Street is still the financial heart of the world. It was one of America’s first securities exchanges, but it wasn’t until 1817 that NYSE opened its doors for business on Broad St., which remains its home today. But as we said, Wall Street is not just a place in New York City. It’s also a term that refers to the world of finance and money where hope springs eternal.
There are many movies about Wall Street, so here’s our list of the 10 best movies about Wall Street.
The Big Short (2015)
Directed and co-written by Adam McKay, “The Big Short” is based on Michael Lewis’ 2010 book of the same name. The film tells a compelling story about how an unlikely group of outsiders predicted and ultimately bet against the subprime mortgage market—and won big.
Barbarians at the Gates (1993)
The 1993 docudrama “Barbarians at the Gates” tells the story about the leveraged buyout of American conglomerate RJR Nabisco by its CEO in the late 1980s. It stars James Garner as the CEO Henry Kravis,
American Psycho (2000)
Based on the book by Bret Easton Ellis, “American Psycho” is a satirical black comedy about the rise and fall of Wall Street’s Patrick Bateman. The film stars Christian Bale as an investment banker who hides his psychopathy under apparent success.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
The 1992 drama “Glengarry Glen Ross” is a black comedy about three real estate agents in the midst of a cutthroat competition.
Hedge fund managers and brokers are stressed out people living with high-pressure jobs where mistakes can be costly, as the film’s protagonist gets reminded by his boss at one point: “Do you want to sell anything this month or not?”
Rogue Trader (1999)
The 1999 drama “Rogue Trader” is based on the true story of Nick Leeson, a rogue trader who brought down Barings Bank and caused losses in excess of £190 million.
This is one of the best movies about Wall Street because it’s a cautionary tale to anyone with ambitions in this industry: ethics are important for personal well-being and professional success.
Trading Places (1983)
The 1983 comedy “Trading Places” is a classic for those who enjoy movies about Wall Street.
It tells the story of two men, socialites living on opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum (Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy), whose lives are turned around after they’re unwittingly switched as part of a bet are orchestrated by two successful brokers. When it comes to an understanding of what life is like on Wall Street, this film couldn’t be more accurate: you can never predict how events will unfold.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film based on the memoirs of Wall Street swindler Jordan Belfort may not be a comedy, but it is definitely one of the most accurate depictions of what life on Wall Street might entail.
The movie tells how Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) became successful in his early years working with stocks and bonds by leveraging information from contacts at blue-chip companies before being indicted for security fraud by the FBI in 1990. The Wolf of Wall Street shows viewers that success can come quickly to those who work hard enough, even if they happen to break some rules along the way.
Boiler Room (2000)
Boiler Room is a 2000 American drama starring Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, and Vin Diesel. The film takes place in the New York City-based firm JT Marlin where hard work ethic often translates to success on Wall Street. But when out of touch executives make decisions that lead to an FBI investigation into illegal stock manipulation, things start coming apart for everybody inside the company as greed begins to take hold among employees who are looking to find their way through all this chaos and figure out what they stand for before everything falls apart completely.
Margin Call (2011)
Margin Call is a 2011 American drama film. It stars Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany and Stanley Tucci as employees of an investment bank who decided to alert the authorities about suspicious activities in the company that they think might lead to insolvency.
Wall Street (1987)
Set in the 1980s, it tells the story of greed, murder and corruption on Wall Street. The film is based loosely on the life of stockbroker Ivan Boesky.
In this classic Oliver Stone drama with Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko (“Greed is good!”) and his unscrupulous empire-building over one three-year period in New York City’s financial world, a poor young man has become an arbitrage trader for high finance with a string of multimillion-dollar deals that includes insider trading off news releases from corporate executives before they’re announced to buy or sell their own companies’ stocks.
The best movies about the finance industry are those that have a glimpse into greed and corruption. They may not be in real life, but they provide insight into what is happening behind the scenes. These three films all include different aspects of corporate finance at play during their respective time periods.