10 Essential Films about Financial Services

In chronological order. A subjective list to be sure. Only includes movies I’ve seen. Which films would you add?

On Prime Video, and at this time of year in heavy rotation lots of other places

A community bank is nearly done in by a greedy and devious board member. Nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but a box office disappointment at the time. Stars Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra directed. The American Film Institute says it’s one of the 100 best American films ever made. The FBI considered it communist propaganda.

Prime Video

If you’ve ever wondered how decisions regarding promotions are made at insurance companies, this film explains it all for you. Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Ray Walston, and (cast against My Three Sons type) Fred MacMurray. Directed by Billy Wilder. Won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.

Prime Video

The funniest movie about commodities trading ever made. Stars Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Ralph Bellamy, Don Ameche, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Gary Gensler is a fan.

Showtime, Prime Video

Oliver Stone intended the film to be a morality tale, not an industry recruiting tool. “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good,” the most famous line from the movie, echoes what convicted felon Ivan Boesky told a group of graduating college students. Stars Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, and Martin Sheen. Douglas won an Academy Award for Best Actor.

The leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, and all the devils are here: Henry Kravis (Jonathan Pryce, too tall for the role), George Roberts (Peter Dvorsky), Teddy Forstman (David Rasche), and Peter Cohen (Peter Riegert). James Garner had a good time as F. Ross Johnson, RJR Nabisco’s CEO.

Prime Video

Cold calling and pump-and-dump schemes on Long Island. Stars Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, and features a cameo by Ben Affleck.

Available on Max and Prime Video

Winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Frederic Mishkin and R. Glenn Hubbard have prominent roles. Narrated by Matt Damon. Written and directed by erstwhile fintech entrepreneur Charles Ferguson.

Plex, Tubi, Prime Video

24 hours at an investment bank during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. Feels like a documentary. With Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, and Aasif Mandvi. Earned J.C. Chandor a nomination for Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

Netflix, Prime Video

Based on the true story of a brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont (which once had 1,000+ brokers), and its founder. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Matthew McConaughey.

Paramount+, Pluto TV, Prime Video

Margot Robbie, Anthony Bourdain, Selena Gomez, and others explain the origins of the 2008 global financial crisis for you. Based on a book Michael Lewis wrote before he lost his credibility.

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