Saw The Big Short? So Has Everyone Else. Here are 5 Finance Films You've Never Seen

Destiny A. Lopez |

Following in The Wolf’s footsteps, another film about finance has gotten a lot of buzz this year: The Big Short. With a stellar all-star cast including Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, and even an endorsement from Bernie Sanders, the film is rumored to be one of the major contenders for this year’s award season.

Based on the 2010 book by Michael Lewis, and directed by Anchorman filmmaker Adam McKay, The Big Short takes place during the the financial crisis of the late 2000’s that was brought on by the build-up of the housing market and credit bubble. According to The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, “The Big Short will affirm your deepest cynicism about Wall Street while simultaneously restoring your faith in Hollywood.” With reviews like that, it’s no surprise the film has already been added to various “best of” lists. Along with Glengarry Glen Ross, Wall Street, American Psycho and Trading Places, The Big Short is now can be added to the small but mighty pantheon of films that are a must sees for cinefiles and entrepreneurs alike.

However, thanks to a fairly aggressive marketing campaign, many have already seen The Big Short. Furthermore, many among us are already familiar with::

  • Blake’s ABC’s.
  • Gordon Gekko’s advice on friendship.
  • Paul Allen’s business cards that filled Patrick Bateman with murderous envy.
  • Jordan Belfort’s f-bombs in The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • And of course, the hilarity of Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.

So if you’re looking for something beyond the usual finance-based films listed above, you’ve stumbled upon the right list. Without further adieu, here are five finance films you’ve never seen.

American Madness (1932)

Nearly all of American Madness takes place in only one single location: The Union National Bank. The film follows a New York banker who’s implicated in a scandal during the Great Depression. Although considered dated by many critics, the film’s gossip, gangsters, a scandalous (at the time) affair, and Frank Capra’s direction make this a must-see pre-code film. Capra, whose directorial body of work includes classics like It’s A Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, should be the only reason one needs to add this movie to their queue.

Other People’s Money (1991)

This Norman Jewison-directed comedy tells the story of a corporate raider appropriately named "Larry the Liquidator" (and more appropriately portrayed by Danny DeVito). Larry sets his sights on a small-time cable company that employs most of the town’s residents. Distracted by the company owner’s step-daughter, played by Penelope Ann Miller, Larry is faced with a choice: the girl or the money.

The movie is flawed; however, Other People’s Money is still a great watch. Getting 3.5/4 stars from the late Roger Ebert was no easy task. And, just in case you’re thinking you’ve never heard of Jewison, If you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof, Moonstruck, or The Thomas Crown Affair, then you’ve seen his movies.

Barbarians at the Gate (1993)

Based on the book of the same name by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, Barbarians at the Gate is about the epic fight for the leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco, notably between the company’s own CEO F. Ross Johnson and KKR’s Henry Kravis. Don’t turn up your nose at this made-for-TV movie. The film, overall, was well received by both audiences and critics.

Margin Call (2011)

Premiering at Sundance, Margin Call shows the early stages of the late 2000’s financial crisis is told in over a 24 hour period at a Wall Street investment bank. Don’t let the $3-million indie budget fool you. This film stars A-listers, including Kevin Spacey, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, and Jeremy Irons. However, even with the incredible cast, intriguing dialogue, and even an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Margin Call is often unjustly left off these so-called best of lists.

99 Homes (2014)

A Florida construction worker, portrayed by Andrew Garfield, and his family have been evicted from their home by a real estate broker, played by Michael Shannon. Desperate to reclaim his home, the construction worker accepts a job from the very same real estate broker who is the very source of all his woes.

Although the film only saw a limited release, 99 Homes is an effective and timely melodrama that has captured the attention of some notable critics. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern, “99 Homes, a relatively small, tough-minded drama about pitiless people doing unprincipled things, proves to be one of the most interesting, elegantly crafted and—paradoxically, given the dark subject matter—relating films to come along in recent memory.” No wonder this film has an impressive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While this film comes highly recommended, buckle your seatbelt; It’s a tearjerker.

What are some films that you think should be on our list? Let us know in the comments section.



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