Wall Street movies have been popular for a long time. After all, Wall Street is a complicated and flashy world, and the people that thrive there can be interesting for insiders and laypeople alike. Wall Street movies have only gotten even more important in the years since the financial crisis, and movies that teach people about the stock market are more important than ever.
Here are some of the best and most popular movies about Wall Street, from hard-hitting documentaries to true-story dramas and works of complete fiction. Let’s get started!
31 Of The Best Wall Street and Stock Market Movies Out Now
The Big Short
A dramatization of the volatility leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Short has been widely acclaimed as one of the best movies about Wall Street and the stock market, and especially about the crisis. Starring Christian Bale, Steve Carrel, and Brad Pitt, The Big Short explains financial concepts in a highly approachable adult setting. With celebrity guest spots from stars like Anthony Bourdain and Margot Robbie this movie aims to entertain even as it explores weaknesses in investment banks and investment firms.
The Wolf Of Wall Street
Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Di Caprio this award winning film was immediately popular, and landed Di Caprio Best Actor from a number of awards organizations. Nominated for more than 170 awards The Wolf Of Wall Street was immediately recognized as a pinnacle of financial cinema.
The Wolf Of Wall Street follows the story of real-life stock-broker Jordan Belfort living the way we expect Wall Street stars to live… starting at 22. It’s a look into the high stakes financial world, and how corruption is easy to fall into when it comes to the stock market.
The Wolf Of Wall Street also follows how one man’s fall and greed can affect the people around him, especially in the financial world.
This movie tells the story of how Jordan Belfort opens a scam brokerage firm that ends up making millions.
Wall Street (1987)
Wall Street might be an earlier look at the Street than many of the movies on this list, but it still holds up fairly well. Starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, Wall Street looks at insider trading through the lens of Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox as he is taken under the wing of unscrupulous traded Gordon Gekko.
Michael Douglas won best actor for his portrayal of Gordon Gekko, and Wall Street 1987 remains a deeply entertaining watch. Gekko’s self-assured declaration that “Greed is, for lack of a better word, good.” Has echoed through the ages and still informs Wall Street and finance thinking today.
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Inside Job is the first movie on this list that’s a true documentary instead of a dramatization of events. Taking a closer look at the 2008 financial crisis, what caused it, and the fallout from the crisis itself, Inside Job teaches without being boring.
Directed by Charlie Ferguson, the film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. Talking about the housing bubble, taking a look at investment bank policy, and the mindset that led to the crisis.
When it comes to documentary financial cinema, there are few better examples available today.
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Too Big To Fail
Too Big To Fail is a historical drama that takes a close look at what was going on behind the scenes during the financial crisis of the late 2000s. Based on the book Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves by Andrew Ross Sorkin, the film focuses on Henry Paulson, Ben Bernake, the Federal Reserve, and the other big actors that steered policy and the financial reaction to what was happening in Wall Street.
This Emmy-Nominated film may be a dramatization, but it captures the real-life action and tension of the investment crisis well.
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The Corporation focuses a little less on Wall Street than many of the other movies on this list, but that doesn’t make it any worse for people who love Wall Street movies.
Instead, this movie focuses on what a corporation is, how they are formed, and what the complex instrument of a corporation does in today’s financial and political world.
Included are interviews with prominent critics of modern corporations, including Michael Moore, and an in-depth examination of what a corporation historically was. Detailed in its criticism, the Corporation explains many of the obscure details that explain how Wall Street functions and the intersection between corporations, stock trading, investment bankers, and why so many corporations seem to seek profit at all costs.
The Pursuit Of Happyness
2006’s The Pursuit Of Happyness is another standout movie on this list. Rather than looking at crises, financial systems, or the biggest accounting frauds, The Pursuit of Happyness looks at the competitive world of investment banking from the lens of what success can mean for a struggling family.
Starring Will Smith as Cris Gardner, and based on a bestselling book by the same name, Gardner becomes an intern stock broker. The movie shows how deeply competitive and difficult the financial world can really be as Gardner fights his way into a competitive internship, revealing the struggles along the way.
The combination of Wall Street movie and family-feel-good film might be rare, but the Pursuit of Happyness does a good job with both themes.
Many people might not consider a horror movie the typical genre of a Wall Street film, but American Psycho ticks both boxes. Starring a very different Christian Bale than the version that appeared in The Big Short, American Psycho follows Patrick Bateman a successful investment banker through both business and murder.
While a clear dramatization, America Psycho comments heavily on the morality and sociology of the Street, with a balance of horror in Bateman’s own actions and how well he fits in with the other rich and successful characters he works with.
A few years ago the term financial thriller might have seemed oxymoronic. Margin Call is one of the Wall Street movies that changed that.
Margin Call mostly follows 24 hours in an investment firm in the days leading up to the 2008 crisis. With a crack cast including Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci and directed by J.C. Chandor, Margin Call is a dramatized version of some very real behind the scenes drama.
The movie also doesn’t pull many punches. Characters at times know that what they are doing is morally questionable, but also know that they must act to save their own jobs and financial futures.
Margin Call might not look at the usual suspects for a financial drama about the late 2000’s but is a fantastic addition to the genre anyway.
The China Hustle
The China Hustle takes a close look at one of the often underrated movers of the Street, China. This financial documentary dives into the unethical and sometimes illegal actions taken by Chinese investment firms and Chinese corporations whose stocks are bought and sold on the Street.
Specifically, the China Hustle looks at how some of these companies look to take advantage of American investors, and how their get-rich-quick schemes often turn out to be only skin-deep.
Trading Places stars Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykyrod and is a comedy about a con artist and a commodities broker arranging to trade roles. Trading Places follows how both men do in their new roles more than Wall Street itself, but it’s an entertaining look at the financial world.
Making $90 million at the box office, Trading Places was widely considered a commercial and critical success, though it takes a very different look at the Street than more recent films.
Hustlers is another interesting take on the world of finance, following a group of strippers as they seek to better their financial fortunes by turning the tables on Wall Street clientele. An amusing and very adult film, Hustlers shows that sometimes you don’t have to be an investment advisor to do well on Wall Street.
Starring Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, and Nia Long, the Boiler Room is a drama following a college dropout looking to please his father and finding himself working at a suburban brokerage firm, and discovering that life as a broker isn’t as straightforward as he’d thought.
Discovering that the brokerage is using pump and dump schemes and other unscrupulous means of making money is only the tip of the iceberg with this movie.
The Trillion Dollar Bet
The Trillion Dollar Bet might be an episode of Nova, but it’s worth considering on it’s own merits. the Trillion Dollar Bet looks at the volatility of the markets and the history of attempting to reduce investment risk. It covers the invention of a new way to reduce individual risk, and how investment firms struggled to stay afloat as risk reduction almost collapsed financial markets.
Rogue Trader is a rarity on this list, a BBC film that focuses not on Wall Street, but on a British bank. However, while Rogue Trader is a little different it’s still an excellent movie for lovers of Street films and financial movies.
Rogue Trader tells the true story of Nick Leeson, and how he rises to become one of Barings Bank’s key traders, and how one of his failures almost brought Barings Bank to it’s knees.
Enron: The Smartest Guy In The Room
This 2005 documentary film follows the 2001 collapse of Enron Corporation, leading up to the Enron scandal and criminal trials for many of the company’s top executives.
With a run time of 109 minutes, this in-depth documentary looks closely at Enron’s culture, politics, and the business moves that led to their collapse. While it might not be as entertaining as some of the dramatic portrayals of the Street on this list, Enron: The Smartest Guy In The Room is a fascinating look at inside corporate culture and how that culture can succeed or fail.
Quants: The Alchemist Of Wall Street
Quants: The Alchemist of Wall Street is a single-episode documentary, and a close look at how technology can be used to exploit and create financial opportunities. It looks at the heart of the Street, investment firms, and all banks at the Quants, the math wizards that understand how finances work in a way no one else quite can.
It also shows how that mathematical skill can sometimes be weaponized, and that the alchemy of the Street doesn’t always benefit all the people supporting it.
This 2010 American Drama follows Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones, as they try to weather the difficulties following corporate downsizing in the middle of a recession. This drama rings true to life in many moments, showing the competing interests of company and The Company Men who make it work, as well as showing the real-world consequences of company failures.
Equity is another financial thriller, but an important one since it features a rare female protagonist in the world of financial films. Naomi Bishop is a skilled senior investment banker, but her position and livelihood are threatened by a series of setbacks.
A career change and fresh start are called for, but Naomi can’t help but think that something isn’t quite right at her new job, and starts following a web of corruption to it’s source.
Another older look at the Street, Trader gives viewers a rare treat since it focuses on the murky world of futures trading. The documentary centers on one of the brilliant minds of the street, Paul Tudor Jones II, and his prediction that America’s 200 year bull market is about to end.
A film that seems strangely prescient now, Trader is a great look at the Street that was, with some still relevant lessons for the Street as it is today.
Dealers follows the British Branch of an American investment firm as it’s struggling to recover from the loss of $100 million in capital and the loss of one of their leading traders after he commits suicide. Revealing the high pressure world of finance, Dealers follows the stories of the people who want to snag the top spot and steer the bank out of financial trouble, no matter the personal costs.
Other People’s Money
Starring Danny DeVito, Other People’s Money follows the story of a corporate raider who swoops in to buy an undervalued company only to fall in love with the founder’s son’s lawyer’s step daughter. Small world, right?
The company’s owner must fight back against the takeover in order to preserve his employees’ income, leading to the drama, comedy, and romance of Other People’s Money. Less educational than entertaining, this movie is still a fantastic entry into the world of finance films.
Working Girl (1988)
Starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaveer, Working Girl is a classic story of an underdog turning the tables on their boss. New York City receptionist Tess McGill gives her boss an incredibly useful business tip, which she uses for his own benefit without giving Tess the credit.
Rather than letting her get away with it, Tess decides to turn the tables and get Kathryn’s job for herself. But Kathryn realizes what’s going on before Tess can succeed. Harrison Ford plays an investment banker caught between the two women as Tess navigates a great financial deal Kathryn can’t allow.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
A follow up / sequel to the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko is back! Out of prison but also out of favor with his financial peers, Gekko (Michael Douglas) takes advantage of his step-son (Shia LeBouef), an idealistic investment banker far removed from Gekko’s tarnished legacy to try and rebuild his financial empire.
Wall Street Money Never Sleeps is a great movie that shows how greed can impact decisions.
Capitalism: A Love Story
A Michael Moore film, Capitalism: A Love Story isn’t anything new for Moore fans. Examining the social cost of corporate culture through Moore’s unique critical lens, Capitalism: A Love Story looks at how modern finance helps and hurts society as a whole. With a special eye to Moore’s favorite subject, struggling working class Americans, Moore examines capitalism itself as well as corporate culture, taking on For-Profit-Prisons, and the way some investment bankers seem to treat Wall Street like a casino.
Chasing Madoff is based off a book by the same name, written by Harry Markopolos. The book follows Markopolos’s own attempts to get the SEC to look more closely at Madoff after uncovering proof that Madoff was running a ponzi scheme. The team working on the project would eventually get Madoff caught and prosecuted, but not until an estimated $18 million has been lost.
The Bottom Line
The Bottom Line might be a short, but it’s a good look at when successful presents collide with difficult pasts, and how that can affect your financial future.
Limitless is one of a very few science fiction takes at financial films. Set in a futuristic New York, Limitless follows what happens when a struggling author takes a pill that makes him an immediate financial genius, but also plunges him into a financial world with many threats he doesn’t fully understand.
Barbarians At The Gates
Barbarians At The Gates is another kind of financial thriller, this time looking at the inner workings of the corporate world when F. Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco decides to take the food and tobacco company private… and instead gets a wave of bidders from other companies and business men who want it for themselves.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Starring El Pachino, Jack Lemmon, and Alec Baldwin, Glegarry Glen Ross is a dramatic behind the scenes look at a busy real estate office, based on a popular Pulitzer prize winning play of the same name.
The Wizard Of Lies
Starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfieffer, and Alessandro Nivola, The Wizard of Lies is a dramatization of the fall of Bernie Madoff after his ponzi scheme was discovered. The biopic follows not only Madoff himself, but also his ponzi scheme, still the largest in American history.
Final Thoughts on the Best Wall Street Movies
Wall Street movies might not be hugely common or as entertaining as the latest block buster super hero movies, but they are more than entertaining enough.
Many of these movies are educational, or have deeper moral lessons that apply to anyone, not just the Street. Equally importantly, Wall Street movies often go to show how interconnected modern society is, and uncover some of the weaknesses we suffer from and idolize like greed.
What’s your favorite stock market movie? Comment below!
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