22 Stock Market Movies and Finance Documentaries Investors Must Watch

stock market and wall street movies

There are two things I love in life.

Money and movies.

And when you put them together I get excited.

So if you're like me, then you're going to love this article.

I'm going to share my favorite stock market movies, Wall Street movies, and even some of the best finance documentaries.

Let's get into it.

The 12 best stock market and Wall Street movies

1. Wall Street

NameWall Street
StarsMichael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah
Budget$16.5 million
Year Released1987
DirectorOliver Stone
Run Time126 minutes

Wall Street is about a young stockbroker, Bud Fox, who's willing to do anything to get to the top. He teams up with Gordon Gekko, a ruthless corporate raider. The movie delves into the greed and corruption in the 1980s stock market scene. I found this to be an epic movie and I think all investors should watch it to understand the ethical dilemmas faced in the finance world.

2. The Big Short

NameThe Big Short
StarsChristian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling
Budget$50 million
Year Released2015
DirectorAdam McKay
Run Time130 minutes

If you got burned by the Global Financial Crisis in 2008 then you might want to watch this movie. The Big Short follows the true story of a few financial experts who predicted the collapse of the housing market and credit bubble in the mid-2000s. They decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight, which goes in their favor but at a major cost.

P.S. The Big Short is based on Michael Burry who runs Scion Asset Management.

3. Boiler Room

NameBoiler Room
StarsGiovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long
Budget$26 million
Year Released2000
DirectorBen Younger
Run Time120 minutes

Before Fast and Furious took the world by storm, Vin Diesel starred in Boiler Room alongside Giovanni Ribisi and Nia Long in a movie that revolves around a college dropout getting a job as a broker. He soon realizes that the job isn't as legitimate as it seems. It's a cautionary tale about the dark side of stock selling and the pressures of making money.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street

NameThe Wolf of Wall Street
StarsLeonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
Budget$100 million
Year Released2013
DirectorMartin Scorsese
Run Time180 minutes

I read the Wolf of Wall Street book when I was 16 years old. So you can imagine the impact it had on me growing up. When I heard there was a movie coming out I wasn't sure whether it would live up to the hype. And it did. It blew away my expectations and became one of my favorite movies of all time. Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, the film showcases his rise as a wealthy stockbroker. Along with his subsequent fall involving crime, corruption, and the federal government. It's a wild ride through the excesses of Wall Street in the 1990s.

5. Trading Places

NameTrading Places
StarsEddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis
Budget$15 million
Year Released1983
DirectorJohn Landis
Run Time116 minutes

This movie made me laugh more than I expected. It features a snobbish investor and a street con artist who find their positions reversed as part of a bet by two callous millionaires. It's a comedic take on the stock market and commodities trading. A lot of stock market movies tend to be heavy, intense, and exhausting. I found this to be a fun and easy watch.

6. American Psycho

NameAmerican Psycho
StarsChristian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto
Budget$7 million
Year Released2000
DirectorMary Harron
Run Time101 minutes

While this isn't directly related to the stock market, Patrick Bateman is a wealthy New York investment banker. He manages to hide his psychopathic ego from his circle of friends, but only for so long. As his violent tendencies escalate, the lines between his hallucinations and reality blur. The movie serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the dehumanizing effects of a materialistic society.

7. Money Monster

NameMoney Monster
StarsGeorge Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell
Budget$27 million
Year Released2016
DirectorJodie Foster
Run Time98 minutes

A financial TV host (George Clooney) and his producer are put in an extreme situation when a disgruntled investor takes them hostage. The movie explores the repercussions of financial advice given on TV and the real-life consequences of bad investments. I will note that it's a thrilling watch and it might be uncomfortable for some.

8. Margin Call

NameMargin Call
StarsKevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons
Budget$3.5 million
Year Released2011
DirectorJ.C. Chandor
Run Time107 minutes

A margin call happens when an investor's equity in a margin account (leveraged account) falls below the broker's required limit. The film follows key people at an investment bank over a 24-hour period during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. It's a deep dive into the moral and financial choices made on the brink of a financial disaster. Investors can learn what not to do along with the decision-making processes during a crisis.

9. Rogue Trader

NameRogue Trader
StarsEwan McGregor, Anna Friel
Year Released1999
DirectorJames Dearden
Run Time101 minutes

This older film tells the true story of Nick Leeson, a derivatives trader who single-handedly brought down the Barings Bank, the oldest investment bank in Britain. It's a tale of unchecked ambition, greed, and the perils of modern financial systems.

10. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

NameWall Street: Money Never Sleeps
StarsMichael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan
Budget$70 million
Year Released2010
DirectorOliver Stone
Run Time133 minutes

This is a sequel to Wall Street (covered above). This particular film sees Gordon Gekko coming out of prison and re-entering a much more chaotic financial world. It delves into the 2008 financial crisis and the world of high finance. I found it a bit boring and thought Wall Street was more exciting but that's just my personal opinion.

11. Too Big to Fail

NameToo Big to Fail
StarsWilliam Hurt, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace
Year Released2011
DirectorCurtis Hanson
Run Time99 minutes

Too Big to Fail is a raw look at the financial crisis of 2008 and the powerful players who decided the fate of the world's economy in a matter of a few weeks. It really showed the fragility of the financial system. I suggest investors watch this so they can gain insights into the decision-making processes at the highest levels, especially during a crisis.

The 10 best finance documentaries

1. Inside Job

NameInside Job
StarsMatt Damon (narrator)
Budget$2 million
Year Released2010
DirectorCharles Ferguson
Run Time108 minutes

Yes, this is another GFC film. The documentary provides a comprehensive analysis of the 2008 global financial crisis, whereas the movies are dramatised versions of the events. It delves deep into the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships that have corrupted politics, regulation, and academia.

2. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

NameEnron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
StarsPeter Coyote (narrator)
Year Released2005
DirectorAlex Gibney
Run Time110 minutes

Enron was involved in one of the largest scandals in 2002 and 2001. The film showcases the rise and fall of the energy company, which eventually led to its bankruptcy due to corporate fraud. It's a deep dive into corporate greed and lack of oversight. It's a good reminder that integrity is critical when it comes to business and finance.

3. Banking on Bitcoin

NameBanking on Bitcoin
StarsWences Casares, Nathanial Popper, Gavin Andresen
Year Released2016
DirectorChristopher Cannucciari
Run Time90 minutes

The rise of cryptocurrency has been phenomenal. This documentary covers the early days of Bitcoin and its pioneers. It explores the challenges faced by the cryptocurrency in its quest for mainstream acceptance, which in my opinion is almost there. Even if you're not familiar with Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies I suggest watching this to learn why it's become so important in modern times.

4. Capital in the Twenty-First Century

NameCapital in the Twenty-First Century
StarsThomas Piketty, Gillian Tett, Ian Bremmer
Year Released2019
DirectorJustin Pemberton
Run Time103 minutes

Similar to the Wolf of Wall Street this documentary is based on the book by Thomas Piketty. It explores the wealth and power dynamics over the past 400 years. It offers a journey through time to showcase how economic inequality has shaped our societies. I found it insightful and I think all investors would agree once they watch it. It's particularly helpful in understanding the broader socio-economic implications of wealth distribution.

5. The China Hustle

NameThe China Hustle
StarsDan David, Matthew Wiechert, Carson Block
Year Released2017
DirectorJed Rothstein
Run Time84 minutes

This documentary exposes fraudulent Chinese companies that exploited the U.S. financial system and cost investors billions. Be warned, it might make you a little angry. The documentary is full of greed, deception, and the dark side of globalized business.

6. Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve

NameMoney for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve
StarsLiev Schreiber (narrator)
Year Released2013
DirectorJim Bruce
Run Time104 minutes

The documentary provides a detailed look into the U.S. Federal Reserve and its impact on the economy. It explores the role of the central bank and its influence on financial crises. Having spent a few years at the Reserve Bank of Australia, I found this to be interesting although some investors might find it a little boring.

7. Becoming Warren Buffett

NameBecoming Warren Buffett
StarsWarren Buffett
Year Released2017
DirectorPeter Kunhardt
Run Time88 minutes

This documentary is my favorite by far. It offers an intimate portrayal of one of the world's richest and most respected investors, Warren Buffet. It provides accurate insights into his personal life, investment philosophy, and his journey to success.

Related article: Best investing books for beginners.

8. Chasing Madoff

NameChasing Madoff
StarsHarry Markopolos
Year Released2010
DirectorJeff Prosserman
Run Time91 minutes

The documentary follows Harry Markopolos and his team as they try to expose the biggest financial scam in U.S. history, orchestrated by Bernie Madoff. If you want to understand the important of skepticism, due diligence and integrity then make sure you watch this.

9. The Ascent of Money

NameThe Ascent of Money
StarsNiall Ferguson
Year Released2008
DirectorAdrian Pennick
Run Time240 minutes (4 episodes)

Historian Niall Ferguson traces the evolution of money and the financial system over the millennia. The series explores the history of finance, including the origins of banks, stock markets, and insurance. There are four episodes so it might take you a while to get through but I found it to be interesting.

10. Dirty Money

NameDirty Money
StarsVaries per episode
Year Released2018
DirectorVarious directors for different episodes
Run TimeVaries per episode

This documentary series is one of my favorites on Netflix. It delves into stories of corporate greed, securities fraud, and ‘creative accounting'. Each episode explores a different case of financial misconduct. You'll learn the important of ethics and due diligence while being entertained.

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