Kick Back With a Film
10 More Movies Economists Will Love
Economics touches every aspect of our lives, whether we know it or not. Game theory, statistics and econometrics, politics, government policy, and of course finance are all aspects of economics that affect our daily lives.
So, it’s no surprise that there are many films that can be thought of as economics movies. Some of them might not even be explicitly movies about economics, but nevertheless discuss themes that some economists study, like strategic behavior.
As a follow-up to our popular article 10 Movies All Economists Will Love, we’ve collected 10 more movies that will surely give the economist in your life something to talk about. Next time you sit down for a movie night, be sure to give the following options a try!
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1. Up in the Air
Up in the Air follows a corporate downsizer and motivational speaker (named Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney) who specializes in helping companies lay off their employees. Although Ryan does this, he wants to do so in a sensitive way, and is against a new remote termination program that the company decides to implement.
The movie explores some difficult emotions that may resonate with our own careers, and challenges the philosophies of life that several characters have. For those who enjoy a more personal movie that explores the human side of the economy and ends on a hopeful note, this is a good choice.
2. The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a popular book and movie series from the mid-2010s that follows the story of a group of teens as they fight for survival. But under its surface the movie has surprising economic depth. The entire concept of the titular Games is something of a commentary on capitalism shown by the staggering system of wealth inequality between the glitzy Capitol and each of the Districts (which specialize in producing specific goods).
Moreover, the characters attempt to secure sponsors before the Games begin to improve their chances of surviving, and their actions during the Games showcase the strategic decision-making that Game Theory teaches – and how concepts like honor and altruism can break theory’s expectations. This movie is a fun choice to touch on economics concepts in a thrilling, action-filled way.
Described as a financial thriller, Equity follows an investment banker trying to work her way up the corporate ladder. Unfortunately, she gets tangled up in a web of corruption as an old friend investigates the shady practices of a company whose IPO she is tasked with promoting. She must find the truth of the matter to save her career. This movie makes a great choice for economists who love both drama and finance in equal measure.
4. High Flying Bird
A sports-focused movie, High Flying Bird is a fictional story that nevertheless seems inspired by the real-life 2011 NBA lockout. It follows a sports agent, Ray Burke, whose company is at risk of bankruptcy following failed negotiations that led to the lockout. Ray must pitch an intriguing new business plan to his star rookie talent – including streaming games on social media platforms – that might help them both keep their jobs.
Among many themes, the movie touches on the principal/agent problem, which is a known phenomenon in game theory. Moreover, besides delving into the business behind the game, the movie also features interviews with real NBA players about their own rookie years. This one’s sure to please any fan of economics and sports.
5. Boiler Room
Boiler Room is a drama similar to the more recent The Wolf of Wall Street that shows how pump-and-dump stock market schemes work and how they ruin the people caught up in them – except those running the scheme. The movie follows a college dropout named Seth who is hired at one of these firms, targeted by the FBI to become their informant, and who tries to right some of his wrongs in the process of taking the company down.
6. Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room
Enron’s bankruptcy and fraud is a famous true story. This dramatic documentary explores the doomed venture and how they cooked the books, abused the stock market, and more to stay afloat for as long as possible before eventually collapsing. It’s an especially good watch for economic historians and those interested in policy.
7. The Wizard of Lies
Amidst the 2008 financial crisis, Bernie Madoff was arrested for running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history. The news story made waves when it became public knowledge, and showed how fraudulent activity can ruin well-intentioned, average people victimized by financial crimes like this one.
This movie is a documentary set in the aftermath of Madoff’s arrest, and flashes back frequently to show how Bernie’s business lies affected his family members, too. For a drama that explores one of the most famous financial crimes in history, give this movie a go.
8. Dune: Part One (2021)
A well-known sci-fi movie based on a book, Dune: Part One is another film that is undergirded by economic themes throughout. Amidst a backdrop of political intrigue, House Atreides is given charge of a planet producing the most valuable substance in the galaxy – spice that is necessary for space travel. But the House that formerly controlled the spice trade doesn’t take the Atreides’ ascension lightly, and the ensuing conflict leaves the fate of the planet and many of the characters uncertain. For a movie where politics and the flow of valuable resources are crucial to the plot, look no further.
9. The Lorax
Based on a book of the same name written by Dr. Seuss, The Lorax shows the story of a town with an environmental problem. All of the trees were cut down to produce garments, and this history has been hidden from the town until a young boy goes on a journey to find a real tree. This is a family-friendly movie option that touches on themes of sustainable development, tragedy of the commons, and resource exploitation.
10. The Corporation
The Corporation is a 2003 documentary film that concentrates on the history of corporations and the behavior of the modern corporate entity. It analyzes and criticizes this behavior, especially with regard to how corporations’ rights are perceived as similar to humans’ in the legal system.
Although clearly not an unbiased film, the movie was praised for avoiding overly partisan rhetoric and received positive reviews. It’s worth watching for those who wish to think critically about one of the main vehicles our economies use to conduct business.
Still hungering for more top movies in economics? Do you have a favorite option that we’re missing? Share your favorite choices in the comments below!
Whatever your movie choice, we wish you a happy viewing.