Die yuppie scum! Whether you love them for their grimy sordid characters or for their sharp Brooks Brothers attires, company men of New York City’s financial pulpit make for an interesting story. And as much as the media will criticize them for often taking advantage of helpless average schmucks, it still gives me pleasure to watch them do it. It’s an intriguing paradox of morals, but one that is suitably apposite for the genre, one which has spiked in recent years since the financial crisis of 2007-2008 and the recession that followed. Here are the top ten best films about Wall Street.
Too Big To Fail (2011)
Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
The Company Men (2010)
#10: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
What is captivating about this vivid documentary into the masterminds that defrauded and crippled one of the largest corporations in America is how cavalier its fearless leaders were in its inevitable destruction. Led by a group of maverick businessmen, the number one being Jeffrey Skilling, the company displays how easy it is to stay complacent if a white-collared man keeps saying everything is alright. It’s a brutal chronology of one of the greatest crime stories in American history.
#9: Arbitrage (2012)
Richard Gere is magnetic in a career-best performance as a hedge fund manager in Manhattan, whose life is turned upside down when he is implicated in the death of someone close to him, while also embroiled his own financial scandals that have put his company at stakes. Like Enron, Gere’s Robert Miller is a magnate who is attempting to sell his company and keep a thin disguise that it is viably sound. In the end, his greed overpowers any sense of moral turpitude in this financial thriller.
#8: Boiler Room (2000)
The first film to be based off of the exploits of Jordan Belfort, Boiler Room dives headfirst into the criminal underworld of a ‘chop shop’, a pump and dump brokerage firm that sells artificial stocks to naïve and unknowing customers. The film utilizes workplace chauvinism and machismo to enlarge the characters in the movie and make them caricatures — Gordon Gekko wannabes who prey on simpletons with no knowledge of the stock market. It’s an intriguing portrait of young people’s infatuation with the fleeting frenzy of making quick money.
#7: Inside Job (2010)
As gripping as any thriller, this documentary chronicles the inevitable crash of the stock market in 2007-2008 due to the housing bubble crisis, and the tortuous decline that followed. Narrated by Matt Damon, the film is a treatise on the devastating nature of what happens when powerful people fall asleep at the wheel, following a selection of key investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers as single-handedly paralyze the global financial system. The film ends with a display of weak and anticlimactic reforms that improve nothing to a fractured system.
#6: Margin Call (2011)
If Inside Job is an outsider looking in, then Margin Call is surely the opposite. An account of a fictional investment firm, whose risk management team has stumbled upon the crisis that shows that their company’s valuation is near nothing, it exemplifies the escalation and anxieties of a those involved, riding up the food chain to a CEO who is, with the flick of a wrist, gives a devastating blow to a system for years to come. It’s an interesting portrayal the types of compromises these people make in order to keep their wallets filled to the brim.
#5: Trading Places (1983)
A very loose adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, this film stars Dan Aykroyd as Louis Winthrope III, a commodities broker whose life is crossed with a homeless man played by Eddie Murphy in the raucous comedy. Their fates are switched as the owners of Winthrope’s firm wager a bet against one another, experimenting how two different classes of people will fare when trying on each other’s shoes. Eddie Murphy is hilarious in one of his first roles that catapulted him to stardom.
#4: Wall Street (1987)
The film follows junior stockbroker Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) on his eager climb to the top of the food chain. Filled with bombastic harangues and self-proclamations of the better nature of greed, Wall Street boasts the sound of the excessive 80s, with an antagonist that’s just as villainous as he is charismatic. And although the film falters at certain intervals and clichés, Michael Douglas sinister portrayal as Gordon Gekko draws the crowd as a corporate raider who inspired droves of people to become stockbrokers.
#3: The Big Short (2015)
An unlikely band of outsiders and neurotics realize the inevitable collapse of the housing market and decide to bet against it. While they are looking to make money out of tragedy, they also play sleuth to understand the complexity at why we came to the failure in the first place. A darkly satirical tale teeming with impeccable comic timing by an ensemble cast, this film foretold the future with a sardonic gut punch that was felt across the world.
#2: American Psycho (2000)
No one can get a reservation at Dorsia in this horrific look at materialistic yuppie culture in the 80s. Christian Bale stars as investment banker Patrick Bateman, who lives a life of kitschy restaurants, cocaine-fueled club affairs, strenuous workout routines and critical reviews of Huey Lewis and the News and Phil Collins, all while masking a deep-seated contempt for the superficiality of his co-workers, his culture and himself, and acting on such feelings by going on rampant murder sprees. Wall Street never saw so much bloodshed.
#1: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Leonardo DiCaprio researched and obsessed over the mind and madness of Jordan Belfort for years before being able to make the film with frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese. An epic rise and fall of a stockbroker who defrauded innocent people of their assets with fake stocks, The Wolf of Wall Street is a rancorous drug-fueled party from start to finish, reminiscent of the formula that captivated audiences with Goodfellas and Casino.
The film stars an ensemble cast of miscreants and degenerates who run a captious brokerage firm by the name of Stratton Oakmont, where orgies with debutantes and little people in Velcro suits collide as they openly steal other people’s money. And while the film is critical of Belfort and all his terrible deeds, it simultaneously congratulates him, an ending scene that exemplifies that, however dishonorable and amoral his actions were, he is still a skilled salesman that society, for some reason, looks up to.
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite Wall Street film? Comment down below!
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[…] one of the best film examples of this. Every line is written with intention. There’s no throwaway dialogue in this movie. Every sentence just crackles with rich descriptions and political jargon […]
The Wolf of Wall Street is one of my most favorite films every. Leo is certainly at his best in this one.
Scorsese and DiCaprio indeed. I personally consider his performance in that movie the best of all.
Trading Places!!! How did I forget about that movie? Good list!
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