Based on the book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis, this film follows the events that led up to the 2008 financial market crash. As a combination of terrible business practices, bad loans, and exceptional deception, the crash left many struggling to make ends meet after losing their stocks and their jobs. The events are seen through the eyes of a few key players, from a hedge fund manager who can see the housing market about to topple off a cliff to a trading firm seeking to unravel how this happened while it is happening. An all-star cast portrays such characters with the likes of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. Additionally, cameos by Margot Robbie and Anthony Bourdain playing themselves help to fill in the blanks of understanding the mechanics of such a dire part of economic history.
As a surprise of a picture directed by the usually silly antics of Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), The Big Short became a film as bitterly honest about the state of the world as it was a darkly comedic observation on the situation. It’s quickly edited yet peppered with explanations so the fast-pace doesn’t overwhelm the viewer too much as they try to piece together the financial crash. The film did so well communicating such information that it would win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It also created a thirst for more films centered around the topic of money and corruption. Check out these ten films of a similar nature to The Big Short.
The 2008 financial crisis is seen through the eyes of a failing firm over the course of 24 hours where everything goes wrong. A massive Wall Street investment bank finds itself awakening to terrible news that the day will bring tumbling stocks and a financial collapse that will destroy the company. Desperation falls over the office as the many executives struggle to find a way out, finding existence they can take and others to blame for the bitter downfall of such a firm. But it may be too late for some as suicide becomes an option. Written and directed by J. C. Chandor (All is Lost), this inspired financial thriller features an impressive ensemble that includes Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Irons, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Mary McDonnell, Demi Moore, and Stanley Tucci.
The Wolf of Wall Street
The true story of Jordan Belfort’s rise and fall is given a brisk, eccentric, and chaotic portrayal in The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on the memoir of the same title, the film follows Jordan’s small beginnings as a stockbroker who learns that hard way that he has to break the rules if he ever wants to get ahead in the competitive game of playing the stock market. Having learned a few dirty tricks of the trade, he sets out to make his own firm that exploits every loophole and takes every risk to become the most profitable and cutthroat of all firms. While such criminality does lead to a sweet life of mansions, drugs, and sex, all that pleasure comes at a price when his empire soon topples. Directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Casino), this biographical black comedy features an all-star cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Jean Dujardin, and Jon Bernthal.
If you’re in the mood for more of Adam McKay’s brisk direction, you’ll certainly want to check out his take on Dick Cheney with Vice. The film follows Cheney on his journey from being a mere intern at the White House during the Nixon administration to becoming the Vice President when serving alongside George W. Bush. Cheney makes numerous business and political decisions to further his own gain in the wake of a conflicted nation and the September 11th attacks. Written by McKay as well, this biographical drama was nominated for plenty of awards (including the Academy Award for Best Picture) and featured an ensemble cast of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe, and Jesse Plemons.
Considered one of the most notable films on the nature of 1980s greed, Wall Street is a scathing criticism on how stockbrokers go too far to land a score. Bud Fox is the newest stockbroker on the block who is hoping to make a mint while the getting is good in 1980s New York City. Seeking guidance to rise above the rest, he takes great interest in Gordon Gekko, a veteran broker who knows every dirty trick in the book to get ahead in the cutthroat world of financial success or ruin. With such a mentorship, Bud soon rises to infamy with his expert broker skills but soon realizes that greed may not be as good as Gordon keeps saying it is. Directed and co-written by Oliver Stone (Platoon, JFK), this work of Americana features an all-star cast that includes Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah, Martin Sheen, Hal Holbrook, and Terence Stamp. The story of Gordon Gekko would continue years later in 2010’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
Based on the memoir of the same name, Molly’s Game tells the story Molly Bloom, a woman who was well on her way to becoming a world-class skier until an injury killed her dreams. Putting that dream to rest, she seeks work as a waitress but then stumbles onto an underground poker operation. Witnessing a chance to make some easy money as she learns the tricks of the trade, Molly sets out from her own underground poker operation to stage the best in New York City. But getting involved in such a secretive service could very well make her a target of some very dangerous people. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The Trial of the Chicago 7), this card-playing crime drama stars Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Michael Cera, Jeremy Strong, Chris O’Dowd, and Bill Camp.
Killing Them Softly
It is the eve of the 2008 presidential election and America is not doing so well. Hard economic times have led to unlikely criminals resorting to crime to make ends meet. Two such criminals are Frankie and Russell, employed by Johnny “Squirrel” Amato to rob a mafia poker game. Instead of bringing the money to Squirrel, the two decide to make off with the money on their own. Tasked with bringing, killing them and retrieving the lost cash is the hired gun of Jackie Cogan, devoted only to money and killing from a distance. Written and directed Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), this historical crime drama is loosley based on the novel Cogan’s Trade by George V. Higgins and stars Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, and Sam Shepard.
The Social Network
Mark Zuckerberg was little more than a bitter Harvard University sophomore who was dumped by his girlfriend. In retaliation, he crafted a website of social judgement that soon attracts the allure of the rest of the student body. Thus, Facebook is born and quickly takes off with college students all over the world. However, as the success of the website grows to form the birth of the most iconic of social media, Zuckerberg finds himself becoming more ruthless in his business practices that shape the company and the social formation for the future. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club), written by Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs), and based on the non-fiction book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, this award-winning biography on Facebook’s foundation features a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Armie Hammer, and Max Minghella.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Soon after the financial crash of 2008, documentarian Michael Moore set out to unravel the nature of how a country such as America could let such a downfall happen. The capitalist structure is placed under a microscope to showcase how such a wealth disparity has occurred in what was thought to be one of the most powerful countries on the planet. Through various interviews and perspectives on history, Moore’s film pulls back the curtain on the financial nature of the United States of America and how it may be headed for a fall akin to Rome.
Too Big To Fail
In this biographical drama based on Andrew Ross Sorkin’s non-fiction book Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves, this is yet another film set in 2008 as the housing market begins to fall. As the meltdown occurs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke try to do all they can to contain the crisis. But the crisis may be too much to keep at bay as many people lose their jobs and revenue to such uncertain times. Directed by Peter Gould (Better Call Saul), this TV movie features an all-star ensemble that includes William Hurt, Edward Asner, Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace, Cynthia Nixon, Bill Pullman, Tony Shalhoub, and James Woods.
Based on both the 2011 Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson and Efraim Diveroli’s 2016 memoir Once a Gun Runner, War Dogs tells the story of two friends who thought they could get ahead in the world of arms dealing. Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz happen in the U.S. Army contract with supplying weapons to the Afghan National Army. The deal, which ranges $300 million, makes them rich. But getting rich from such a business leads to darker deals and more dangerous situations for the pair who watch as their empire falls. Directed by Todd Phillips (Joker), this dark mixture of crime and comedy features the acting talents of Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas, and Bradley Cooper.