With the right amount of knowledge and savvy, trading can be a great way to pull in wealth and everyone, from Hollywood greats to Sundance festival entrants, have certainly gripped onto this idea with both hands. It’s not unusual to find industry bigwigs, fictional or otherwise, at the centre of a crime thriller or the enviable protagonist in an adrenaline-racing drama. Trading can often come with connotations of being fast paced, dramatic and incredibly complicated, and while this can be true, we’ve decide to pick out some of the best movies about trading that both celebrate this stereotype, and those that completely break it down. Without further ado, here are our 12 best movies about trading!
1. Trading Places (1983)
What better way to kick off our list than with a comedy that’ll make you laugh until you cry. Trading Places is an American Comedy that takes a modern twist on the classic The Prince and the Pauper tale. Randolph and Mortimer Duke are the proud owners of a successful commodities brokerage in Philadelphia, and found themselves with opposing views on a nature vs nurture argument. A bet that follows leads their managing director and a street hustler to trade places. The movie follows the journey of both characters and the Duke brothers through hilarious twists and turns that leaves the conniving pair out of pocket. For a movie all about trading with a hilarious twist, this is certainly worth a watch.
2. Working Girl (1988)
While romantic comedies are arguably a case of love or hate, Working Girl certainly leaves viewers begging for more. The move follows Tess McGill, a 30 year old hard working woman who’s fought her way through the finance industry yet gotten nowhere. When her boss, Katherine Parker goes on holiday and breaks her leg, she asks Tess to look after things, but when Tess finds out that Katherine planned on stealing and pitching one of her ideas, she decides to use the opportunity to pitch the idea herself and push ahead her career. Enter Jack, Tess’s love interest and Katherine’s partner, and you have yourself a RomCom worthy of a watch.
3. Rogue Trader (1999)
Ewan McGregor captures hearts and minds in this crime drama. Nick Leeson, an ambitious investment broker, single-handedly bankrupted one of the most famous banks in Britain and this movie follows his story. Filled with drama, tension and plenty of twists and turns, we follow Leeson through the hiring of low-skill workers, broken rules and plenty of cover-ups that lead to the bankruptcy of Barings Bank. Ewan McGregor’s performance alone is plenty reason to watch this historical drama!
4. Boiler Room (2000)
College dropout Seth Davis is the proud owner of an illegal casino run from his rented apartment, but it’s simply not enough for him. Instead, driven by his father’s disapproval and a want for more, Davis is drawn to an interview for a trainee stock broker at JT Marlin, a New York small brokerage firm. However, despite the apparent success of his new job, Seth starts to realise that all is not as it seems, and as motivated as he is to do well, the firm may not be quite as legitimate as it first seemed.
5. Floored (2009)
Floored is a documentary created in 2009 to give us the opportunity to walk in the shoes of Chicago’s busiest trading floors. Witness the strange hand signals and neon jackets that make up some of America’s best traders and trading floors, and learn all about the habits and risks that each and every trader on the floor can suffer from. However, this is more than just a look into the trading life. With the market as fickle as it was back in 2009, this is a high-tension documentary of how America’s best and most savvy traders were coping with volatile stock markets.
6. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Wall Street is the life and home to thousands of America’s biggest traders, and so it’s no surprise that some of the biggest trading movies are set in this prime location. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps follows a hot-shot young Wall Street trader as he partners with a disgraced but experienced former corporate raider by the name of Gordon Gekko, and the two quickly form a mission of passion: they need to alert the industry about the oncoming troubles, and to find out just who was responsible for the young trader’s former mentor. This drama is an edge-of-seat watch from start to finish.
7. Inside Job (2010)
Inside Job is another documentary, but this one focuses solely on the 2008 financial crisis. For those working within trade, or who simply want to know more about the big event that crashed economies worldwide, this 1hr45 feature could answer all of your questions. Matt Damon narrates this comprehensive analysis, from which you’ll see countless professionals, victims of the crisis, and the result of exhaustive research. Of all the documentaries around the market crash, Inside Job is the one to watch.
8. Margin Call (2011)
The term ‘Margin Call’ isn’t one known to many outside of the trading industry. The movie, however, is a star studded drama/thriller that captured the hearts and minds of thousands. This movie is also set at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, and follows the employees of an investment bank over a single night of panicked working when the protégé of a recently let-go employee completes his mentor’s analysis and discovers a huge crisis. The question is, just how far are senior management willing to go to prevent bankruptcy?
9. Too Big To Fail (2011)
The financial crash of 2008 is a hot topic in trading movies, and rightly so. Too Big To Fail is a biographical movie that follows Henry Paulson through the drama of the crisis and takes us behind the scenes to see the true struggle that this man and his colleagues are facing. We follow the rushed trading, fixes and much more to see just to what extremes people were willing to go to in order to cope and deal with the crisis.
10. Limitless (2011)
This action thriller takes a bit of a different approach on trading. Through taking a pill, Eddie Morra becomes a financial whizz. With newfound laser focus and confidence, he rises to the top of the financial world but, of course, this brings in plenty of unwanted attention from other financial mogul’s. With a struggle to stay on the top and with even hit men on his tail, just how long can Morra stay put?
11. The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)
We of course couldn’t have a list of movies about trading without including The Wolf Of Wall Street. This fan favourite features Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio who plays Jordan Belfort in a movie based off of the true story. Follow Belfort through his rise to the top as a wealth stock broker, and then straight back down as he falls from high. His world becomes filled with crime, corruption and the federal government, but just how hard will he fall? You’ll have to watch to find out.
12. The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short follows three separate storylines that run parallel to each other throughout the US Mortgage housing crisis in 2005. We follow a group of investors that are betting against the US mortgage market, however throughout their research they discover just how corrupt the market is. With this information of the flawed market now discovered, will they do anything to deal with the discovery?
There you have it – our list of the top 12 trading movies. While some are more closely related to trading than others, each one is a movie worth watching. So break out the popcorn, curl up and get watching!
Image: Christian Bale in The Big Short; courtesy Paramount Pictures.