Top-Ten Stock Market Movies Of All Time

by Todd Shriber

This week’s Trader Daily top-10 list is one for the movie buffs among us, as we take a look at the 10 best stock market movies. For better or worse, Hollywood didn’t start tapping Wall Street as a movie backdrop in earnest until the 1980s, so even our younger readers should be familiar with at least of a few of the films that make the list. And for once, this list goes in order.

10) “Boiler Room” (2000):

This may be a harsh assessment and when you get down to it, Boiler Room, starring Vin Diesel and Giovanni Ribisi along with a cameo from Ben Affleck was entertaining. But it was a tad on the sophomoric side and there are certainly better stock market movies in the drama genre.

9) “Trading Places” (1983)

This early 1980s comedy stars “Saturday Night Live” alums Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy. Commodities not stocks serve as the backdrop here. It’s number three on Dave Manuel’s list of Wall Street flicks; we’ll debate the ranking, but say it is worth a watch for a few laughs.

8) “Barbarians at the Gate (1993)

For the fans of mergers and acquisitions history, this is perhaps the best movie you can get your hands on. It is a non-fiction account of the RJR Nabisco leveraged buyout, which is still one of the most talked about takeovers in U.S. corporate history.

7) “Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room” (2005):

This film is a documentary about – you guessed it – the end of Enron, which until Lehman Brothers in 2008 was the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history. It’s actually better than any of the dramatic interpretations of the Enron fiasco.

6) “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)

One of the few  feel-good movies dealing with Wall Street, this film stars Will Smith and is more about the triumph of the human spirit than the market. “The Pursuit of Happyness” checks in at number five on Manuel’s list. Trader Daily interviewed the real-life star of this story, Chris Gardner, back in 2010, and he has lost none of the intensity and drive reflected in the movie. The interview can be read here.

5) “Other People’s Money” (1991)

Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito shine in this well-timed film that appeared in theaters while the go-go days of the 1980s were still fresh on people’s minds. Dramatic at times, the comedic value in this one is underrated.

4) “Rogue Trader” (1999)

Another non-fiction and arguably underrated film, Ewan McGregor stars as Nick Leeson, the trader that brought down Barings, the bank to the queen, according to Leeson’s website. Trader Daily interviewed Leeson as well last year and were surprised to find him surprisingly candid about his time in a Singaporean jail, the role of the Kobe earthquake, and the small size of the scandal ($1.4 billion) when compared to subsequent ones.

3) “Inside Job” (2010)

The Oscar winner for best documentary in 2010,  Inside Job takes viewers inside the financial crisis via the voice of Matt Damon. Aside from expecting Jason Bourne to suddenly appear at any given moment, the film is as good of a window into causes of the crisis as we’ve seen and should be required viewing for MBA students.

2) “Trader” (1987)

This is a rarely-discussed short documentary film featuring hedge fund legend Paul Tudor Jones. One for the history buffs, market geeks and film aficionados alike.

1) “Wall Street” (1987)

It’s not a stretch nor terribly original to place this iconic classic atop a list of the best Wall Street movies. Michael Douglas won the Oscar for best actor for his role as Gordon Gekko, arguably one of the more memorable film characters of the latter half of the 20th century. And before he was Charlie Harper, Charlie Sheen was Bud Fox in perhaps his best movie role. The sequel is notable in its absence from this list.

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4 Comments for “Top-Ten Stock Market Movies Of All Time”

  1. You blew it. The best stock market film of all time is The Day The Bubble Burst. Try to get out of your TMZ mindset.

  2. Wow, not even an honorable mention for Quicksilver- Kevin Bacon as an options market maker that blows out, becomes a bike messenger to clear his head, then scrapes money together to go back onto the floor. An awful movie but filmed on the floor of the then Pacific Stock Exchange Options Floor.

    Plus great views of San Francisco….

  3. You were doing fine until you listed “Inside Job”, a one-sided liberal smear job which presents Barney Frank as a hero and completely ignores the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. There’s nothing I like better than a righteous, overpaid Hollywood actor preaching to me about the evils of profit-driven capitalist free enterprise.

  4. I’d add “Too Big To Fail” the recent bho movie…granted slanted a bit in my opinion vs the book..but overall decent flick.

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