Are you interested in investing and finance? You don’t have to just read boring textbooks, you can learn a lot by watching films. We’ve selected the best films and documentaries about investing that will give you a real understanding of the main concepts of the financial markets, and you’ll enjoy them too.
1. Million Dollar Traders (2009)
Length: 3 episodes (60 minutes each)
A British TV series that follows 12 wannabe traders with no stock trading experience on their journey to becoming fund managers. The aim was to see if inexperienced traders can be taught to be better than professional investors.
During the 2007-09 financial crisis, fund manager Lex Van Dam gave the contestants £1m in exchange for a great show, which the contestants had to endure. A brilliant and addictive show.
How would you do when investing? Where are the best places to invest even small amounts of money?
2. Inside Job (2010)
Length: 108 minutes
An easy-to-follow documentary about the global financial crisis from its beginning to the crash of 2007/08. Narrated by Matt Damon, the documentary is very well crafted and by the end you are guaranteed to be angry at the level of greed and corruption in the financial system.
3. Margin Call (2011)
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker, Demi Moore.
The story takes place over 36 hours in a large investment bank at the start of the 2007/08 financial crisis. A young analyst discovers that the mortgage-backed securities held by the banks are worthless and that they will soon go bankrupt, leading all traders in the firm to knowingly sell worthless investments to clients.
The provocative film is eerily similar to the situation that occurred with Goldman Sachs in 2007 and raises the issue of the morality of using the crisis to invest.
4. The Big Short (2015)
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
Based on the book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis, this film follows several savvy businessmen who realize before anyone else the housing bubble that triggered the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
The film is known for its clever depiction of sophisticated financial instruments. Selena Gomez explains what synthetic CDOs are at the poker table or Margot Robbie explains mortgage bonds in a champagne bath.
5. Freakonomics (2010)
Length: 93 min
An interesting collection of documentaries exploring human nature and how we explain the world around us. It is based on the 2005 book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by economist Steven D. Levitt and writer Stephen J. Dubner.
Topics explored include what role a person’s reputation plays in their success in life or why so many people cheat in sports.
6. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Length: 109 min
A documentary about Enron and its corrupt practices that led to its ultimate downfall. The film explores how one of the largest companies in the US fell apart almost overnight and how it managed to fool regulators with false accounting. It details how Enron caused California’s energy crisis, which caused up to 50% of the state’s power grid to be shut down.
The film includes several interviews with key employees as well as the story of the central whistleblower in the case.
7. Too Big to Fail (2011)
Starring: Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Paul Giamatti
Lenght: 99 min
The film chronicles the financial meltdown of 2008 and focuses on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. Offering a detailed behind-the-scenes look from late March to mid-October 2008, the film follows Richard Fuld’s attempt to rescue Lehman Brothers, the conversations between politicians in search of a private solution, and the negotiations between Paulson, Warren Buffet, investment bankers, the British regulator, and members of Congress who worked to save the U.S. economy.
8. Rogue Trader (1999)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Anna Friel
Lenght: 101 min
This drama, based on a true story, follows Nick Leeson working at Barings, a large investment bank. Leeson is sent to Singapore and placed in a managerial position in the branch there, taking advantage of the booming Asian market to make risky trades. Soon he is in up to his neck in it and trying to hide his losses. Fleeing the country with his wife Lisa, Leeson must eventually face the consequences of his investment.
9. The China Hustle (2018)
Lenght: 82 min
From the producers of Enron, The China Hustle is a Wall Street heist story about an ever-unfolding financial crime so big it has the power to affect us all. Small investors frantically searching for new alternatives to high-return investments in global markets find a gold mine in China. But when one investor discovers a massive fraud ring, everything is called into question.
10. Wall Street (1987)
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Michael Douglas
Running time: 126 min
The film tells the story of Bud Fox, a young stockbroker who becomes involved with Gordon Gekko, a wealthy corporate entrepreneur with no scruples. Bud Fox will do anything to get rich, including trading on illegal inside information.
What movies about investing and finance would you add to our list?