The movies we watch shape how we see the world around us. Roger Ebert, the noted US film critic, said of cinema: “It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.”
But how realistic are movies’ portrayals of the business world? If we look at industries like finance and sales, we see that directors tend to portray those worlds as cut-throat and cruel. Marketing and advertising is glamorised to an insane degree whereas design and editorial are seen as insular and timid.
And whilst these pictures do have a degree of truth in them, they’re not supposed to be documentaries. We’ve collected what we think are the seven best examples of business movies that somehow managed to change how we perceive the corporate world, alongside what Ebert made of the film.
1. The Big Short
This movie is not like your regular banking film. The Big Short follows four unlikely financiers as they navigate the global collapse of the economy, whilst simultaneously venturing into the seedy underbelly of the banking world.
Roger Ebert said: “The narrative momentum, combined with the profane wit of much of the dialogue, and the committed acting going on beneath the hairpieces, all did their job. And they got across the angry, pessimistic conviction behind the movie, which is that the major banks all engaged in fraudulent, criminal activity, and that the US government bailed them out at the expense of the little guy.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
The movie that completely opened the eyes of millions of viewers and revealed what can and does happen on Wall Street. A (semi) true story of how a determined young professional takes on the world of finance – and falls foul of the law on the way to the top.
Roger Ebert said: “There will be a few points during "Wolf" when you think, "These people are revolting, why am I tolerating this, much less getting a vicarious thrill from it?" At those moments, think about what the "it" refers to. It's not just these characters, and this setting, and this particular story. It's the world we live in.”