If you’re looking to boost your financial motivation, there’s nothing like a good movie to get you inspired.
Whether it’s a rags-to-riches story, a tale of savvy entrepreneurship, or a glimpse into the lifestyles of the ultra-wealthy, movies can provide us with valuable insights and lessons on how to make more money.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of 15 movies that are sure to ignite your ambition and help you take your financial game to the next level. So, grab some popcorn and get ready to be inspired by some of the most iconic money-making films of all time.
1. The Founder (2016)
The Founder is a biographical drama film directed by John Lee Hancock and starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the controversial founder of the McDonald’s fast food chain.
The film tells the story of Kroc’s rise to power and his eventual takeover of the McDonald’s brand from its original founders, brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald. Through Keaton’s captivating performance, the film explores the cutthroat business tactics Kroc used to transform a small fast food operation into a global empire, and the personal and professional relationships that were tested and destroyed along the way.
The Founder is a fascinating look at the darker side of the American Dream, and a cautionary tale about the cost of success.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a biographical black comedy directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker who became involved in securities fraud and corruption on Wall Street in the 1990s.
The film is based on Belfort’s memoir of the same name, and depicts his lavish and debauched lifestyle as he builds a fortune through illegal means. The film received critical acclaim for its stylish direction, witty dialogue, and powerful performances, particularly from DiCaprio, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
However, it also attracted controversy for its explicit depictions of drug use, sex, and excessive wealth, which some critics argued glorified Belfort’s criminal behavior. The Wolf of Wall Street is a thought-provoking and entertaining film that examines the consequences of unchecked greed and ambition in the financial world.
3. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is a biographical drama film directed by David Fincher and starring Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook.
The film explores the early years of the social media platform’s development, from its inception in Zuckerberg’s dorm room at Harvard University to its rapid growth and the subsequent lawsuits and legal battles that followed. The film also depicts the personal relationships that were affected by Zuckerberg’s ruthless business tactics, including his strained friendship with co-founder Eduardo Saverin, played by Andrew Garfield.
The Social Network received critical acclaim for its sharp screenplay, dynamic performances, and Fincher’s stylish direction. The film’s examination of the power dynamics and ethical issues surrounding the tech industry’s rise to prominence has made it a cultural touchstone, and its impact on the public’s perception of Facebook and its founder continues to resonate to this day.
4. Margin Call (2011)
Margin Call is a financial thriller film directed by J.C. Chandor and featuring an ensemble cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, and Demi Moore.
The film takes place over the course of 24 hours at a large investment bank and follows a group of employees as they discover that the firm’s risky mortgage-backed securities have caused a potential financial catastrophe. The film explores the ethical dilemmas faced by the employees as they decide how to handle the situation, with tensions rising as they debate whether to warn their clients, or protect the bank’s interests at all costs.
Margin Call received critical acclaim for its taut, intelligent script and its nuanced performances, particularly from Spacey and Irons. The film’s examination of the complex and often murky world of high finance is both gripping and thought-provoking, and its insights into the moral and ethical implications of financial decision-making continue to resonate today.
5. Wall Street (1987)
Wall Street is a drama film directed by Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, a wealthy and ruthless corporate raider.
The film explores the excesses and moral compromises of the 1980s, as seen through the eyes of a young and ambitious stockbroker, Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen. The film’s iconic line, “greed is good,” has become a defining statement of the era, and the character of Gekko has become an archetype of the Wall Street culture of that time.
Wall Street received critical acclaim for its slick direction, strong performances, and incisive social commentary. The film’s examination of the inner workings of the finance industry and the cutthroat nature of the business has made it a classic of American cinema, and its influence on subsequent films about the financial world is still felt today.
6. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness is a biographical drama film directed by Gabriele Muccino and starring Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman and single father who faces homelessness and financial hardship while trying to provide for himself and his young son, played by Smith’s real-life son, Jaden Smith.
The film follows Gardner’s journey as he battles against the odds and perseveres through numerous setbacks, while holding onto his dream of becoming a successful stockbroker.
The Pursuit of Happyness received critical acclaim for its powerful performances and heartwarming message of resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. The film’s emphasis on the importance of hard work and determination, and the value of the love and support of family, has made it an enduring classic and an inspiration to many.
7. Moneyball (2011)
Moneyball is a sports drama film directed by Bennett Miller and starring Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team.
The film is based on the real-life story of Beane’s unconventional approach to building a competitive team on a limited budget, by relying on statistical analysis and computer models instead of traditional scouting methods. The film follows Beane’s struggle to implement his new system, and the resistance he faces from the team’s old-school coaches and scouts.
Moneyball received critical acclaim for its intelligent screenplay, strong performances, and inventive direction. The film’s themes of innovation, adaptation, and thinking outside the box have made it a popular choice for business schools and sports management programs, and its insights into the power of data and analytics have resonated far beyond the world of baseball.
8. The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short is a biographical comedy-drama film directed by Adam McKay and featuring an ensemble cast that includes Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carell.
The film is based on the true story of a group of financial speculators who saw the impending collapse of the US housing market in 2008, and bet against the system to make huge profits. The film explores the financial jargon and complex instruments that led to the crisis, and the greed and corruption that allowed it to happen.
The Big Short received critical acclaim for its sharp, satirical screenplay, inventive storytelling, and outstanding performances. The film’s insights into the human cost of the financial crisis, and its searing indictment of the systemic failures that led to it, have made it a powerful and thought-provoking work of art, and a cautionary tale for our times.
9. The Intern (2015)
The Intern is a comedy film directed by Nancy Meyers and starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.
The film tells the story of a 70-year-old widower named Ben (De Niro) who takes on a senior internship at an online fashion start-up run by Jules (Hathaway). Despite being a fish out of water in the fast-paced, youth-oriented environment, Ben proves himself to be a valuable asset to the company and a mentor to his younger colleagues. The film explores themes of aging, career reinvention, and work-life balance, as well as the evolving nature of the modern workplace.
The Intern received mixed reviews from critics, but was praised for its charming performances, heartwarming message, and upbeat tone. The film’s emphasis on the value of experience, wisdom, and intergenerational relationships has made it a popular choice for audiences of all ages.
10. Startup.com (2001)
Startup.com is a documentary film directed by Jehane Noujaim and Chris Hegedus that chronicles the rise and fall of GovWorks, a dot-com company founded by childhood friends, Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and Tom Herman.
The film follows the company’s journey from its inception as an innovative start-up to its eventual collapse during the dot-com bubble burst of the late 1990s. “Startup.com” offers a behind-the-scenes look at the high-stakes world of tech entrepreneurship, with a focus on the personal and professional struggles of the founders and their team. The film explores themes of ambition, competition, and the intersection of business and friendship.
Startup.com received critical acclaim for its candid and intimate portrayal of the startup culture and the challenges of building a successful business. The film’s insights into the highs and lows of the dot-com era have made it a valuable historical document, as well as a cautionary tale for aspiring entrepreneurs.
11. Chef (2014)
Chef is a comedy-drama film written, directed by, and starring Jon Favreau.
The film tells the story of Carl Casper, a Los Angeles chef who quits his job at a prestigious restaurant after a heated argument with the owner, and decides to start a food truck business with his ex-wife (Sofia Vergara) and young son (Emjay Anthony). The film follows Carl’s journey as he rediscovers his passion for cooking, reconnects with his family, and reinvents himself as a chef with a more personal and authentic approach to food.
Chef received critical acclaim for its heartwarming story, likable characters, and mouthwatering depiction of the food world. The film’s emphasis on creativity, passion, and the importance of family and community have made it a beloved favorite among foodies and film lovers alike.
12. Elvis (2021)
Elvis is a biographical drama film directed by Baz Luhrmann, and starring Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and Olivia DeJonge.
The film tells the story of the rise of Elvis Presley from his early years in Memphis, Tennessee, to his emergence as a global music sensation. The film explores the cultural and social impact of Presley’s music, as well as the personal and professional struggles he faced as he rose to fame, including his relationships with his family, his manager (Hanks), and his wife Priscilla (DeJonge).
The film is a visually stunning and musically rich tribute to the life and legacy of one of the most iconic and influential figures in American popular culture. Elvis is highly regarded by fans of Presley and Baz Luhrmann’s previous films, and is a landmark biopic of the “King of Rock and Roll”.
13. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Jerry Maguire is a romantic comedy-drama film directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Tom Cruise, Renee Zellweger, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
The film tells the story of a successful sports agent named Jerry Maguire (Cruise) who, after a crisis of conscience, starts his own management agency with the help of his loyal assistant Dorothy Boyd (Zellweger) and an outspoken football player (Gooding Jr.). The film explores themes of ambition, loyalty, and love, as Jerry navigates the cut-throat world of professional sports and finds himself falling for Dorothy.
Jerry Maguire received critical acclaim for its sharp dialogue, engaging performances, and memorable soundtrack, which includes the classic line “Show me the money!” The film’s portrayal of the sports industry and its emphasis on personal relationships and integrity have made it a beloved classic of the romantic comedy and sports genres.
14. Boiler Room (2000)
Boiler Room is a crime drama film written and directed by Ben Younger.
The film stars Giovanni Ribisi as Seth Davis, a college dropout who lands a job as a broker at a suburban “chop shop” brokerage firm that specializes in penny stocks. As Seth becomes more deeply involved in the world of high-pressure sales and questionable financial practices, he becomes increasingly conflicted about his role in the industry.
The film explores themes of ambition, greed, and the allure of the fast-paced world of finance, as well as the consequences of unethical behavior in the business world.
Boiler Room received mixed reviews upon its release, but has since become a cult classic for its intense performances, fast-paced dialogue, and portrayal of the high-stakes world of financial fraud. The film’s themes of morality and the dangers of succumbing to temptation have made it a cautionary tale for those working in the finance industry, and a reflection of the dark side of the American dream.
15. Joy (2015)
Joy is a biographical comedy-drama film directed by David O. Russell and starring Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role.
The film tells the story of Joy Mangano, a struggling single mother who becomes a successful entrepreneur by inventing the Miracle Mop, a self-wringing mop that revolutionized the cleaning industry. The film follows Joy’s journey from her early years as a young girl with big dreams, to her struggles as a divorced mother living with her dysfunctional family, to her eventual success as a businesswoman. The film explores themes of perseverance, creativity, and the challenges of entrepreneurship, as well as the importance of family and the support of loved ones in the pursuit of success.
Joy received mixed reviews upon its release, but was praised for its strong performances, particularly by Jennifer Lawrence who received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Joy. The film’s inspiring story of a woman who overcomes adversity to achieve her dreams has made it a beloved classic of the biographical drama genre.
This article originally appeared on Pursuit of Passive Income.