What to Watch On Holidays: Movies about the Exchanges and Finance

What to Watch On Holidays: Movies about the Exchanges and Finance

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During the holidays, most people have a lot of free time that they can spend with their nearest and dearest and watch a couple of movies. Most likely, if you trade or deal with the market in some other way, sometimes you want to see some movies connected to trading, speculations, etc. There are such movies out there! Not that they are so numerous, however, you can always pick up some.

Below, I will describe the movies in short, without revealing any important details, and add my impressions.

1. Wall Street – 1987

Number one on our list is Wall Street. Though it was shot in 1987, it remains topical even nowadays. Starring here is Charlie Sheen as the broker and Michael Douglas as the large investor. The latter got an Oscar for this role, and I bet he deserved it! The performance, the idea, and the actors are marvelous. I have seen this movie 10 times and it remains for me a No 1 movie about trading. When I saw it for the first time, I missed some important details but I felt “the catch”. When I saw it again, I understand the plot better, and it seemed more catching.

2. Rogue Trader – 1999

This was the next movie about trading that I saw. It was based on the real story of Nick Leeson who managed the assets of the British Barings Bank. Starring Ewan McGregor, the movie shot in 1999. In the movie, the emotions of trading are captured well: the euphoria of a profit, the stress of losses, the influence of the emotions on trading, the influence of minor events on the overall result. Trading happens not in the office or in front of the monitor but at the exchange. The gestures of the traders, the noise of the exchange, the colorful jackets, the liveliness at the beginning of the day and the quietness at the end – all the details are nice to see.

3. Boiler Room – 2000

The movie “Boiler Room”. Shot in 2000, starring Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel. The actors worked well, and the plot is good. This is a story of a young guy with no education finding himself at a broker company that made lots of money. Broker tricks, human greed, naivety, and the desire for easy money are showed very well. The atmosphere of the movie is mesmerizing! Since I was a kid, I imagined the exchange like this: a large hall, lots of people talking on the fall in high voices, shouting what to buy and what to sell confidently, a lot of papers shed all about. This is exactly what is goi9ng on in the movie.

4. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – 2010

This movie is a continuation of the first part shot in 1987. Though the movie was underestimated by many, I enjoyed it, even more than the first part in a way. Starring here is Shia LaBeouf as the corporate investment manager and Michael Douglas as the hero of the first part. I am not discussing the movie itself not to reveal some important details from part one. But is you saw part one and liked it, then get down to part two, you will like it, too.

5. The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron - 2003

The actors in the movie are not known and, as for me, managed to spoil the movie a bit. Anyway, the plot is interesting: it shows a widespread type of fraud, still used at the exchange, though not intensively. You will definitely not be altogether disappointed by the movie, because the low-quality shooting and acting are covered up by the catch of the plot.

6. The Wolf of Wall Street – 2014

The movie is marvelous! You never notice the 3 hours it takes to watch it. Shot in 2014, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the broker. The acting is amazing, and so is the shooting. Such things are demonstrated well in the movie: the importance of communication for a broker, the influence of quick money on a person, and the easiness with which you can predict someone’s behavior. Of course, much can be censored, and drugs are too abundant, but if you are older than 20, you are unlikely to lose the idea in this.

7. Margin Call – 2011

I watched this one after I saw everything else on the topic. It seemed so senseless to me that I did not get it, how and why it ended. Neither did I understand how such brilliant actors could play in such a dull movie. Starring are Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore. I never understood half of the plot, I admit, but I bet all the movies they were talking on the same topic in a very elaborate language. They try to decide what to do with the stocks they hold, expecting an upcoming crisis. However, the emotions of the characters were demonstrated well. People were speaking about something unclear with such sad faces! Another advantage is the shooting: it is noir and looks very attractive.

Additional list

I will not describe the following movies as their main plot is connected to trading only indirectly. However, if you have nothing to watch, and a ten-minute dialogue about trading will make you happy, I recommend Limitless, A Good Year, The Pursuit of Happiness.

Series about Wall Street

I also recommend you the Wall Street Warriors series and the British reality show Million Dollar Traders.


There are also documentaries on the topic. One is Floored – 2009. It is about traders on the Chicago exchange that traded in the pit. Some lost everything, some reached very high, some adapted to electronic trading.

Also, I recommend another documentary – The Wall Street Code, 2013. I have not seen it yet but it seems to be worth it. It is described as a movie about those who were at the start of algorithmic trading.

Bottom line

Of course, this list is not complete. I tried to single out the movies that I preferred personally. There must be other good movies in the sea, but I am still shocked by Margin Call.

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