Stephen Arnell

Money money money: 10 movies about the markets

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Shutterstock

The furore in the US over the rocketing shares of previously written off companies such as GameStop, Blackberry, AMC Entertainment and Macy’s (the ‘Reddit Revolt’) has introduced stock market trading terms to the general public, with some folks newly opining (with a patina of assumed knowledge) about ‘hedge funds’, ‘penny shares’, ‘junk bonds’ ‘short-selling’ and ‘pump and dump’.

But this is hardly the first-time similar events have occurred. Way back in 1720 the ‘South Sea Bubble’ saw investors suckered when the South Sea Company collapsed as any hopes of generating income from its monopoly on selling slaves to South America (mostly controlled by Spain and Portugal) had come to nought, despite the enterprise continuing to take on considerable amounts of British government debt.

The only steadfast rule appears to be that the gulls who come late to the party when acquiring shares in meta-sizing companies are left holding the bag as other investors pull out.

Financial scams and schemes have been a recurring theme for movie makers.  This chronological countdown avoids a few of the best-known titles, in an effort to bring to light other pictures worthy of checking out.  So, my apologies in advance for the absence of the likes of Trading Places (1983) and Wall Street (1987).

Other movies such as Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and 99 Homes (2014) have dealt with property scams; Casino Jack (2010) and American Hustle (2013) with political/finance corruption, whilst Barbarians at the Gate (1993) and the comedy Duplicity (2009) concerned the effect on share prices of new ‘wonder’ products.

And let’s not forget money laundering, naturally enough the subject of Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat (2019) and the same year’s Crypto, whilst 2013’s Runner Runner took actual online gambling stings as the premise.

But for the purpose of this Top Ten, we will concentrate on movies about the financial markets themselves:

Wizard of Lies (2017) – Amazon Prime Rent/Buy


HBO’s Wizard of Lies sees Robert De Niro reunite with his The Family (2013) co-star Michelle Pfeiffer to play notorious Ponzi scheme scammer Bernie Madoff and his wife Ruth respectively.

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