Economics isn't something that can only be learned from books and journals – in fact, as an important part of modern life, there are a number of great movies made about economic themes. From the 2008 financial crisis to the formation of game theory, movies have documented a variety of subjects that will be of interest to economists. Next time you're selecting a movie for your movie night, try one of these 10 films that economists will love:
The film that got the whole world interested in statistics, Moneyball is based on a true story about the manager of the Oakland A's baseball team who used statistics to analyse and understand players' strengths and weakness, building up his team from bottom of the league to a top team. Economists will enjoy seeing stats put to real-world use and the fact that the numbers guys are the real heroes of the movie. For more on statistics in sport, check out our long-read insight dedicated to the topic!
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
Another movie based on a true story, this one chronicles the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker in the 80s who makes millions through fraud and corruption. Showing the wildest decadence of the Wall Street boom years, this movie was a hit with the public for its moral ambiguity and an all-star cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio.
3. Wall Street
An earlier film with a similar theme to Wolf of Wall Street that inspired the latter movie, this 80s drama stars Michael Douglas as a stockbroker who gets involves with a corporate raider with nefarious plans. Showing life as an 80s trader in its most gauche and excessive, the film delves into issues of morality, wealth, and power in the monied world of high-level corporations.
Arbitrage is a thriller drama starring Richard Gere as a hedge fund manager who has been engaged in shady accounting practices in secret to try and hide his losses and avoid being arrested for fraud. After a car accident nearly exposes his secrets, he must decide how to evade the police in order to protect his secret.
5. The Informant!
For a light-hearted comedy crime film with an economics theme, try the 2009 Matt Damon movie The Informant! Based on a true story of a whistleblower who reports a price-fixing conspiracy at his workplace to the FBI, the movie follows the life of a whistleblower as he tries to help gather evidence against his company. With a fun, ironic tone, the film looks at the way corporate malpractice occurs and the challenges in stopping it.
6. Too Big To Fail
A documentary based on the book Too Big To Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves which covers the 2008 financial crisis and how it came about. The film is presented from the point of view of the key players in various financial institutions who work to try to prevent a global economic meltdown.
7. A Beautiful Mind
A fictionalised version of the life of John Nash, the mathematician who created game theory – which went on to become a major topic in economics research. Exploring both Nash's mathematical work and the schizophrenia that he suffered from, this film was a popular success as well as being highly rated by historians and those in the field of mathematics.
8. Margin Call
Another movie about the 2008 financial crisis, this fictionalised drama is set over 24 hours at a large Wall Street investment bank as the crisis begins to unfold. A high energy and dramatic movie with a cast of famous names, this is one not to be missed.
9. The Big Short
Another biographical film about the 2008 crisis, this one is worth checking out for the distinctive style in which financial instruments are introduced. Using cameos of well-known celebrities and fourth-wall-breaking chats into the camera, the movie explains concepts such as subprime mortgages and collateralised debt obligations in an accessible way.
10. Inside Job
Another documentary about the financial system, this movie focuses on the US in particular and the way that the financial services industry has grown in power and has fostered corruption over the last few decades. Split into five parts, it briefly tackles the history of the finance industry before moving on to the early 2000s bubble, the crisis, and the current state of affairs.
Inspired? Want to enter the world of economics? Well, click here for a comprehensive and up-to-date list of the best economics jobs out there.
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