With the best financial movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime, you get to learn a lot about business and finances, and at the same time, have fun.
We keep movies aside for leisure when we’re through with work, and all we want to do is slump on the couch with popcorn.
When we want to learn, we’d rather grab a book than our TV remote.
However, while movies are entertaining, they also serve as a medium of learning and gaining knowledge if we know what to watch.
With movies, you kill two birds with one stone. You get to have fun, and you learn.
That’s a good deal, isn’t it?
To improve at financial matters, we need to educate ourselves.
While books and articles are okay, we shouldn’t discount movies.
Movies take us deep into the world of business and finances.
They act as a mirror, pointing out the good and bad of corporations, investments, and dough.
Get ready to grab that popcorn as we look into the fifteen best financial movies available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Some are fictional, others based on true events. Either way, they present moving pictures depicting the game of money.
The Best Financial Movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime
1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and is based on the true-life story of Jordon Belfort, an investment broker.
It draws its inspiration from Belfort’s memoir and is directed by Martin Scorsese.
The story centers on the rise and fall of Jordon Belfort.
After getting a job as a Wall Street broker and losing it on Black Monday, he builds a little wealth from another job at a brokerage firm that specializes in penny stocks.
Thereafter, Belfort creates his own company alongside his friend Donnie Azoff.
Through his company Stratton Oakmont, he goes illegal.
Forbes’ recognition opens doors for Belfort as he hits massive success.
Thereafter, he delves deep into drugs and prostitution.
Not long after, the FBI gets on his case.
A succession of events which includes a trip to Switzerland and the arrest of some of his friends ends with his detainment.
Faced with numerous charges, Belfort strikes a deal with the FBI, which he eventually breaches. Nevertheless, he gets a minimum sentence.
The movie is one worth watching to get acquainted with the dark side of finances.
2. Corporate (2007)
What is a business without a game of power?
Corporate takes us down that lane with the power struggle of two rivals in the food and beverage industry.
It is set in India and directed by Madhur Bhandarkar.
The Seghal Group of Industries (SGI) and Marwah Group of Industries (MGI) are owned by moguls Vinay Seghal and Dharmesh Marwah, respectively.
Other players in the game include:
- Nishi, vice president of SGI;
- Ritesh, the senior vice president;
- Ashwini, a politician, backed by the SGI who helped them land a great deal and;
- Pervez, the CEO of rival group MGI.
When the state finance minister Gulabrao puts up a public sector unit for sale, both companies start a stiff competition for it.
MGI wins it after a strategy that involves the minister. However, SGI refuses to back down.
SGI figures out MGI’s hidden plans of manufacturing a mint soft drink after vice President Nishi gets information from Pervez Armed.
To counter their move, SGI launches a soft drink of their own before the date planned by the MGI.
They name it ‘Just Chill.’ Marwah discovers Pervez is responsible for the leak and fires him.
The game continues with the FDA’s discovery of an unhealthy amount of pesticide in ‘Just Chill.’
Seghal’s insistence to proceed with the product’s launch after bribing the FDA agents is met with resistance.
The internal conflict leads to an executive snitching on them to MGI about the pesticide discovery.
MGI goes on the offensive to take SGI down. It all cumulates to a false accusation, threats, death, and more cold tactics.
The movie exposes how far people can go to pursue wealth and the manipulations involved in profit-making.
Watch on Amazon Prime.
3. Moneyball (2011)
Like The Wolf of Wall Street, Moneyball is based on an actual event drawn from a book by Micheal Lewis.
This biographical film mixes up the world of finance and sports and is directed by Bennett Miller.
Brad Pitt stars as the main protagonist, Billy Beane.
Beane is the general manager of Oakland’s Athletics baseball team who challenges building back his team after a bad season with a pocket-sized budget.
To achieve this, he hires Peter Brand, a graduate of economics at Yale.
Brand comes up with an unconventional theory that Beane decides to try out, amidst fierce opposition.
Criticism increases when the Athletics start off badly.
Beane takes a leap of faith and tact to keep on with the theory and convince skeptics.
Eventually, the team picks up and records series of wins, going on to break records.
Unsatisfied, Beane declares his ambitions to win the World Series with Brand’s theories.
While the Athletics don’t eventually win the World Series, another team (the Red Sox) does so using sabermetrics, the system of Beane and Brand.
If you’re a baseball enthusiast interested in how budget management occurs even with a baseball team, this movie is for you.
4. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
What is the correlation between finance and love?
With money arguments being a leading cause of marital strife and divorce, finance is an integral factor in a relationship.
Crazy Rich Asians is based on Kevin Kwan’s novel of the same name and is directed by Jon M. Chu.
It follows the story of a young professor named Rachel Chu.
Rachel and her boyfriend Nick Young goes to Singapore for the wedding of Young’s best friend, Colin.
There, Rachel learns in astonishment that her boyfriend’s family is wealthy and famous in Singapore, something he kept hidden.
The issue of finance pops up in many ways, including:
- Her humble status causes tension between her and other members of his family.
- In a discussion between Young and Colin, the subject of financial inequality pops up.
- The theme of financial status is further dealt with in the broken relationship between Young’s cousin Astrid and her husband.
Further revelations about Rachel’s background lead to hostility from Young’s mother and grandmother, threatening every personal relationship in the movie.
The movie shows the effect of finances on our personal lives and relationships and the societal inequality brought about by money.
5. Playing with FIRE: The Documentary (2019)
FIRE is the acronym of a subculture which targets financial independence using frugality as a tool.
The acronym stands for Financial Independence Retire Early.
The documentary details the story of filmmaker Scott Rieckens and his family as they take steps towards frugal living by making changes in their lives and financial habits.
Rieckens got the idea of FIRE from the father of the movement himself, Peter Adeney, in an interview.
Further research increased his desire to join the FIRE movement. Transitioning to this lifestyle took a lot of convincing conversations and modifications.
As you watch the documentary, you get advice from experts on the movement.
Playing with FIRE is a must-watch if you want to retire early, gain financial independence and change your spending habits.
Watch on Amazon Prime.
6. Margin Call (2011)
Margin Call is dubbed a ‘financial thriller’ because of its fast-paced nature as employees of an investment bank work to prevent a collapse in the company’s finances.
It is directed by J.C Chandor and marks his first attempt at directing a movie.
Erin Dale, head of risk management of an investment bank, finds himself without a job after the bank lays him off during the middle of a project.
After trying, without success, to talk about the importance of his project, he hands over his flash drive to Peter Sullivan, a junior analyst.
Through Dale’s model, Sullivan discovers a bankruptcy looming over the bank in years to come.
The next series of events covers the activities of the staff to solve their problem.
Meetings, phone calls, debates, tradings, and layoffs characterize the action in the movie.
The movie does justice to the inner workings of investment firms during the 2007–2008 financial crisis.
7. Too Big to Fail (2011)
Inspired by Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book of the same title, Too Big to Fail is set in the period of the 2008 financial crisis and tells the story of how Henry Paulson (U.S Treasury Secretary) and Ben Bernanke (Federal Reserve System) tackle the meltdown.
Opening up with news of the crisis, this biographical film takes us to the challenges different firms face during this period, leading to bankruptcies, deals, arguments, threats, and eventual mergers.
The historical value of this movie and its financial tone makes it a popular financial motion picture.
Watch on Amazon Prime.
8. The Gambler (2014)
The 2014 version is a remake of a 1974 movie of the same name.
It is directed by Rupert Wyatt and stars Mark Wahlberg as the lead character, Jim Bennett.
As the title implies, Bennett is an addicted gambler who happens to be a literature professor.
His gambling habits leave him indebted to two dangerous men. One of them—Lee— gives him an ultimatum.
His lecturing profession gets him acquainted with students like Lamar, an NBA player, and Amy, a quiet student and part-time waitress.
Despite getting money from his mother to clear his debts, he gambles it away.
Right after that, his second creditor, Baraka, abducts and tortures him.
The man then demands he get Lamar to win a game by a set margin.
Unchanged in his obsession with gambling, Benett continues borrowing and staking, even in the face of threat.
Gambling is a high-risk money venture that’s best avoided by anyone who wishes to maintain a good money habit.
Through Bennett’s story, this movie points out the risk associated with this activity, making it one of the best financial movies you can watch now.
9. Money for Nothing (1993)
The movie covers a period of five days and highlights the dangers of a one-time fortune.
What would you do if you found $1 million? This forms the basis of the movie.
Inspired by an article titled “Finders Keepers” in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Money for Nothing is directed by Ramón Menéndez and stars John Cusack as the lead character.
Joey Coyle is a struggling American till he finds $1.2 million.
Embracing it as his fortune, he takes the money.
Of course, $1 million cannot go missing and be unnoticed, so it makes the news and draws the attention of the police.
After unsuccessful attempts to cover his tracks, launder the money and bribe his family, Joey tries to escape with an ex.
He eventually gets arrested but is let go on the grounds of temporary insanity.
Not surprisingly, money can make anyone insane.
Watch on Amazon Prime and Netflix.
10. The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short is directed by Adam McKay and based on Micheal Lewis’ book.
It stars, amongst other actors, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale.
The time period of the movie is the 2007–2008 crisis.
The popularity of the movie lies in the unconventional method used to explain events and financial terms, making it one of the best financial movies ever.
It is subdivided into three different but related stories focusing on professionals who profited from the crisis.
Events occur from their point of view, including their inner thoughts, as they predict the crisis.
While The Big Short isn’t the first movie made out of the financial crisis, it offers a unique perspective that investors and finance enthusiasts can learn from.
11. Inside Job (2010)
Directed by Charles Ferguson, Insider Job is a documentary centered on the Financial crisis of 2007–2008.
It explores the causes of the financial crisis, focusing on the corruption in the system.
The crisis left the world in a bad state with heavy unemployment, loss of home, and a global recession.
Taking the narrative reins, Matt Damon points out the factors that engendered the crisis and those responsible.
The documentary has five parts and kicks off with the deregulation of Iceland in 2000, which led to the founding of private banks.
The first part shows a change in the economic system with an unorganized new sector which brought about risks espoused in the second part.
The third part highlights the negligence of people to work on the problems shown in the previous part, which ushers in the recession and collapse of banks.
The last two parts cover the aftermath.
Inside Job, like Too big to fail, has historical value, making it a movie you need to see for education and enlightenment.
12. Barbarians at the Gate (1993)
This movie tells the story of the corporation RJR Nabisco and, like a lot of the films we’ve mentioned, is based on a book.
It was directed by Glenn Jordan and starred James Garner.
Laced with humor, we see how F. Ross Johnson decides to go private after some predictions on the market.
He meets opposition from Henry Kravis and others like Ted Forstmann. In the end, Kravis’ bid wins.
Here’s another excellent example of the corporate world and the rivalry therein.
Buy the DVD from Amazon.
13. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Focusing on a large business scandal that made history, Enron is a documentary that draws its inspiration from a book of the same name by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. It was directed by Alex Gibney.
Enron was founded in 1985 by Kenneth Lay. Not long after its founding, it gets roped up in scandals through the actions of some employees. The movie portrays the eventual downfall of the Enron Corporation, the trial of some top personnel in the company, and their part in the California Crisis.
Enron’s popularity comes about from activities that could be labeled Ponzi schemes. At the height of their success, they even get a nod of respect from Forbes.
After that, it gets worse as they inch closer to their Waterloo, with employers and investors incurring heavy losses.
14. Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It (2015)
If you’ve wondered what Bitcoin is about, this documentary is for you.
Cryptocurrencies are fairly new systems and can seem complex to the average investor.
This movie answers questions you may have. It is directed by Torsten Hoffman.
The movie takes us down the pages of history from the origin of money in ancient times till today.
It equally portrays financial institutions’ mechanisms, the government’s influence on finance, and technological improvements that birth Bitcoin.
The documentary leaves us wondering if Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general marks the birth of a new legal tender amongst nations and the end of our current definition of money.
Watch on Amazon Prime.
15. Capitalism: A Love Story
The total brainchild of Micheal Moore (who directed and wrote it), Capitalism: A Love Story is a documentary with the economic system of capitalism as the theme.
Moore examines capitalism from a lot of angles, including the religious one.
His view of capitalism is not positive, to say the least.
Capitalism, which seemed like a perfect system, is now seen to be beneficial to a minority of the American population while the rest struggle with debt, ill health, and the resultant healthcare costs, losing their jobs, etc.
According to Moore, capitalism is “a system of giving and taking — mostly taking.”
With true stories of people being crushed under the weight of the American system, Moore makes us wonder if reform isn’t necessary.
Capitalism and America, in Moore’s views, are in a toxic relationship.
Whether you agree with him or not, his documentary is worth your time.
Take a ride to the financial world and expand your knowledge with the best financial movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime presented to you.
You’d know what to do, what best to avoid, how to navigate the corporate world with tact and caution, and gain knowledge from these movies.
So, when next you plan a movie night, why not give some of them a try?
Start with any one that interests you more and go on from there.
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