The Best Financial Movies from the Past Decade

“Money’s only something you need in case you don’t die tomorrow.” - Carl Fox

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Paramount Pictures

I love advice that comes from experience. 

There’s nothing that makes me happier than someone sharing with me how they messed up, how huge their mistakes were, all the terrible repercussions they faced and how they bounced back. I am constantly telling others about all the dumb things I’ve done, especially when it comes to money. (Seriously, if you ever run into me on the street, ask me about how I spent $800 on a one-way ticket to Miami or how I demolished my credit score to 550 or the $26,000 credit card debt I incurred! I will love telling you!*)

Movies are no exception. Some of the best life lessons are taught on the big screen, so learn from my mistakes or learn from ten years’ worth of cinema. 

*I’ve since paid off my credit cards and my credit score is 750+ so you absolutely can and will bounce back!

2010: 'Inside Job'

Won 8 awards and 26 nominations // Over the course of this five-part series, this documentary explores the incidents that led to the 2008 global financial crisis from the corruption in banking to the deregulation of the financial sector. The film’s extensive research, thorough interviews and narration by Matt Damon make this movie a must-see.

2011: 'Too Big to Fail'

Won 5 awards and 31 nominations // Based on the book of the same name, this biographical HBO series also explores the 2008 but with more of an interest on Fed chair Ben Bernake and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, as well as some of the key players in connection with Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Scared money don’t make no money.

2012: 'Arbitrage'

Won 4 awards and 5 nominations // This movie is a dramatic thriller about a hedge fund manager who gains to earn a handsome payday if the merger on his company goes through, but of course, there are some slight hiccups: He’s cheating on his wife, gets in an accident with his mistress and his daughter figures out that he’s been cooking the books. Throw in this all-star cast of Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth, and you’ll see why this movie was critically acclaimed.

2013: 'The Wolf of Wall Street'

Won 39 awards 173 nominations // It’s hard to imagine anyone on this planet not being familiar with The Wolf of Wall Street, but if you’ve sworn off cable since 2013 (and 20 different streaming services), here’s what you need to know: Martin Scorsese directs, Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie star and all your most illicit fantasies take place.

2014: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Won 52 awards and 101 nominations // Chris Pratt plays a space traveler who steals an orb from an evil villain and must team up with a ragtag group of criminals while on the run.  Listen, I know some may say that Guardians isn’t technically a financial movie (because it’s not), but 2014 wasn’t a banner year for films in this genre. It’s a good movie. Trust me. Let’s move on.

2015: 'The Big Short'

Won 38 awards and 79 nominations // It seems like everyone watched The Big Short in 2015. If this was one that you somehow missed, now is the time to get caught up. This film takes a look at (what else?) the 2008 financial crisis. What makes it unique is the use of celebrities like Selena Gomez, Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, the late Anthony Bourdain and more, all who break the fourth wall to explain complicated concepts like credit default swap markets and high-risk subprime loans.

2016: 'Betting on Zero'

Won 1 award and 3 nominations // With a 100 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, expectations are high and Betting on Zero doesn’t disappoint. This documentary focuses on the multi-level marketing company, Herbalife, and the lawsuit that ensued by thousands of distributors. You can decide for yourself if the company was a Ponzi scheme (oh, fa sho).

2017: 'The Wizard of Lies'

Won 3 awards and 19 nominations // Casting the mega-talented Robert De Niro as Bernie Madoff and Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife, Ruth, this HBO movie chronicles the $65 billion crime, the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. (Interesting tidbit: Madoff didn’t actually steal $65 billion from his clients. He stole about $20 billion in principal funds and then generated account statements that led his clients to believe that their earned returns were now valued at $65 billion. #themoreyouknow)

2018: 'Panic: The Untold Story of the 2008 Financial Crisis'

19 nominations // Hard to believe that there are any untold stories remaining about 2008, but Vice and HBO teamed up to create a behind-the-scenes account of what was deemed the “most successful—and most loathed—taxpayer-funded bailout in history.”

2019: 'Hustlers'

3 nominations // Was anyone safe from the financial crisis of 2008?! A group of New York City strippers, led by (insanely in shape) Jennifer Lopez, drug and rob the stockbrokers and finance bros who visit their establishment. Come for the cool plot, stay for the talented actresses: Alongside J.Lo, there’s Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, Cardi Bi, Lizzo and Lili Reinhart.

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