From the cut-throat businessmen who built America to the gangsters who attempted to seize it, these movies offer more than just Hollywood’s often fairytale-like interpretations.
Let’s face it, capturing the struggles and life story of an entrepreneur in a roughly two-hour or less time period, is not going to give you a playbook for actually becoming one.
However, if you’ve been looking for a boost of business-focused motivation you’ve definitely found it.
If you’ve forgotten what it feels like to crave the sweet seduction of money, power, fame, wealth and success, then these movies will give you a dose that’s all too addicting.
In reality, these movies are pure entertainment. Perhaps you’re bored and simply looking for something to watch that doesn’t cater to the feel good genre of films out there. The truth is, finding a good business movie to watch is like finding a needle in a haystack. There just aren’t that many that actually draw you in, instead of putting you to sleep.
To make life easier, I’ve put together a collection of the all time, top 50 best business movies for men. Sure, some are technically documentaries while others are technically on the political side, but the they all capture one thing: The art of chasing after a goal by any means necessary.
1. American Experience Henry Ford
This documentary outlines the life and hardships of one of America’s most iconic and influential entrepreneurs. Ford is famous for ushering in America’s first modern vehicle and helped transform work and labor management as it exists today. While the film is extremely inspirational, it also dives into some of the hidden demons Ford faced throughout his entrepreneurial journey and warns against prioritizing ambitions above personal relationships.
2. American Experience Silicon Valley
This swift documentary is the modern entrepreneur’s dream film. The story covers the journey of eight Northern California gentlemen who risk all to follow an idea. The group left solid careers to form a start-up and in turn created what we now call Silicon Valley in the process. Men will love this story of perseverance and the building of an empire.
3. American Experience The Rockefellers
The Rockefeller story is the ultimate story of wealth and success. John Rockefeller was the world’s first billionaire and he was widely criticized. This documentary uncovers his bumpy road to monopolizing the oil industry. Viewers will get pumped by watching this tale unravel and learning from Rockefeller’s ability to knock down all obstacles.
4. American Gangster
This popular action-packed film encompasses all elements of a boyhood dream. The film features Denzell Washington as a detective attempting to bust an ongoing drug empire. The film highlights lots of classic good guy vs. bad guy scenarios and is trickled with violent episodes, gangster slang, and occasional nudity. Viewers will learn the perils of gang-related activity and will bond to the goodness of the police force.
5. Barbarians At The Gate
This movie features a classic bidding war scenario and deals with high money stakes. The film is based on a true story about self-made millionaire F. Ross Johnson and his venture to privatize RJR Nabisco. The film highlights a free-spending and greedy Johnson who engages in dirty business and betrayal in an effort to win the prize. The tale features lots of controversy and money-hungry conversation and warns against excessive greed.
6. Becoming Warren Buffet
Another film about the lifestyles of the rich and famous, this film documents the life and works of billionaire Warren Buffet. Most interestingly, the film highlights Buffet’s lack of emotional connection and his awkwardness in social situations. The video demonstrates that wealth and success is available to people of all shapes and sizes.
7. Boiler Room
This film is the ultimate rebel’s tale about a young college dropout who becomes a phony stock investor by learning how to artificially inflate the market. The young investor learns from his criminal actions and bargains with the FBI to bring down the scam. It’s a tale filled with moral decisions from beginning to end and is certainly thrilling.
This epic crime drama follows a top gambling handicapper as he works with the Mafia to manage a Las Vegas casino. It shows the full-cycle life of a mobster and highlights that the glamour of criminal activity eventually fades.
9. Catch Me If You Can
This catchy film follows the life of a young con artist notorious for check fraud. He poses as multiple characters as he smoothly commits millions of dollars in fraud. He is eventually caught and committed by the FBI, but the story highlights his manic phases and his struggle to please his adoring father.
10. Chasing Madoff
This action packed drama follows a team of investigators as they work to uncover and expose a ten year old ponzi scheme. The main character pursues the truth despite threats to his family, and eventually becomes a hero. It’s a great tale of leadership and doing what’s right despite personal risk.
11. E Dreams
This business documentary chronicles a failed venture during the dot com era. It captures the quick rise and fall of Kozmo.com and leaves entrepreneurs feeling less lonely in their quest for success.
12. Enron The Smartest Guys In The Room
This documentary tells the story of one of the most famous business scandals in American history. The rise and fall of Enron is chronicled clearly and vividly depicts the price paid for fraudulent activity. Ultimately, greed and corruption harmed a large group as many employees lost their jobs and pensions.
13. Glengarry Glen Ross
This profanity-laced movie displays how competition can often breed contempt and corruption. It follows two real estate salesmen in their quest to become the top performers in the company. The two use deceitful tactics to obtain sales and the lies do not pay off in the long run.
This story explores the adventures of an unlikely duo. An unsuccessful businessman teams up with a geologist to take advantage of a recent gold discovery in Indonesia. The two risk extreme legal implications and engage in one of the biggest mining scandals in history.
This classic gangster movie gives viewers an inside look at the lives and lifestyles of America’s most famous crime families. It follows a young mob member as he works his way up the ranks and ultimately unveils how getting wrapped up in drugs, violence and luxury isn’t always as glamours as it appears.
16. Inside Job
Inside Job unleashes a wave of criticism and uncovers how untidy banking practices contributed to the financial crisis of 2000. It’s the ultimate conspiracy theory story that is easily enjoyed.
17. Jerry Maguire
Jerry Maguire features every man’s battle with the desire for wealth and the struggle to do it in a way of integrity. Sports agent Jerry McGuire played (played by Tom Cruise) battles a moral dilemma as he unveils some of the unethical behavior in the business. He is fired as a result, but wins in the long run as he earns respect and love.
This awesome bio follows serial entrepreneur Steve Jobs and his rise to power as the founder of one of the most iconic companies in existence, Apple. The story highlights Steve’s prior failures, his struggle with intimate relationships, and his betrayal of friends. It displays the often unseen side of glamour and glory, yet demonstrates that even the most impossible tasks can become possible with persistence and a relentless commitment to perfection.
Limitless is a classic modern super hero story and follows the life of a man who consumes a drug that provides extraordinary cognitive powers. From a nobody to a never-ending success story, the movie is full of action and a high-performance, motivational attitude.
20. Lord Of War
This drama packed film features Nicholas Cage as an arms dealer in war-stricken Europe. Throughout the film he is constantly battling his conscience as he privately and illegally provides armaments to save local communities.
21. Margin Call
This story takes place over a period of 36 hours and takes place at a Wall Street investment firm immediately prior to the financial collapse of 2007 and 2008. The key characters try to avoid the crisis through a series of secret missions, and endure several rounds of layoffs. It’s a real tale for anyone who survived this time period.
22. Middle Men
This film is centered around an online business gone wrong. Two friends establish the company and are accused of stealing millions of dollars from customers. It teaches a valuable lesson on the price of a party lifestyle.
This is a classic underdog’s tale highlighting America’s favorite pastime: baseball. The story follows the small budget Oakland Athletics and their rise to an incredible season. The A’s look past the flash and glamour and recruit based on numbers, which ultimately leads to a new scouting methodology. This story provides hope and shows that smarts and grit can take the cake.
24. Other People’s Money
This Danny DeVito classic movie, follows “Larry the Liquidator” as he works on liquidating businesses and turning the parts for profit. He represents all things “capitalism” and ends up keeping a small business from going under and maintaining a budding romance.
This biography follows the life and hardships of one of the most famous generals in history and his leadership during the World War II. Viewers will gain inspiration from his tireless discipline and unmatched leadership style.
26. Peter Jones How We Made Our Millions
This documentary is on a quest to discover the secret recipe to entrepreneurial success. The film engages in a series of interviews with several of Britain’s top success stories exploring the human element of the entrepreneur as well as some common tendencies.
27. Pirates Of Silicon Valley
This engaging film explores the deep rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and the development of the personal computer. It’s a must-see for any striving businessman and explores their strategy for dominating a quickly growing industry.
28. Risky Business
This American comedy is a classic movie about a spoiled high school student in rich suburban Chicago. Tom Cruise stars as the main character who takes full advantage of his parent’s weekend getaway. Things quickly escalate and he finds himself dealing with situations beyond his prime. The story covers themes like materialism, loss of innocence, and capitalism.
29. Rogue Trader
The Rogue Trader story explores the high price of deceit and deception. The plot line follows a young broker who rises in the ranks by hiding losses and a rabid gambling addition. The lies eventually add up and he is arrested and slapped with a prison sentence.
This iconic crime movie tells the story of a Cuban refugee who dominates a drug cartel. While the film contains excessive nudity, reference to drugs, and profanity, the overall theme centers on successful business practices and the rise of an empire.
31. Something Ventured
This motivational movie explores the concept of venture capitalism and its rise in popularity in the 1990s. The film features a series of interviews with some of the most famous venture capitalists and will serve as inspiration for any aspiring entrepreneur.
32. Startup Com
This film puts a realistic spin on the romanticized internet revolution. It explores the more harsh realities of today’s economy and warns against “get rich quick” schemes. The film dives into the issue via a series of in-depth interviews.
33. Thank You For Smoking
This film explores the contradictions that take place when work obligations interfere with personal values. The main character is a leading tobacco lobbyist who experiences guilt promoting the deadly drug while attempting to be a role model for his young son.
34. The Big Short
The Big Short tells the story of the housing market bubble and a group of businessmen who used foresight and research to take advantage of an impending economic collapse. It’s a story of relentless greed and opportunism.
35. The Corporation
This movie examines the concept of the modern corporation and delves into the roots of a corporation from its definition in the constitution. The film tests the limits, asks tough questions, and makes relevant connections. It also explores ethics in current business practices and is a great lesson tool for any entrepreneur.
36. The Founder
The Founder explores the fascinating story of the founding of McDonalds food chains. It highlights the importance of seizing opportunity, doing your research, and building relationships. All of these values were explored and seized by Ray Kroc who turned a local hamburger joint into a multi-billion dollar chain.
37. The Godfather
The Godfather has been claimed as one of the greatest movies of all times. It’s a classic mob movie that explores the contradictions between the quest for a normal life and relationship versus the inevitable violent and risky business of mob life.
38. The Great Gatsby
This classic tale warns against excessive materialism and follows the life and lies of young Gatsby. Gatsby pays the ultimate price for his antics. After being suspected of a car crash and murder, he is shot and killed in an plot of revenge.
39. The Men Who Built America
This documentary is a true testament to the American Dream. It follows the life and business careers of some of America’s most innovative and influential businessmen. It also offers insight from more modern wealth like Marc Cuban and Alan Greenspan.
40. The Pursuit Of Happiness
This emotional story follows a young American struggling to pay the bills and provide for his young son. He endures hunger, homelessness, lost relationships and despair to provide a better life for his family. It’s a tale of perseverance and hope.
41. The Secret Of My Success
This film features an inspiring and classic rise up the corporate ladder. An optimistic college graduate moves to New York City for a position in finance. Shortly after arriving, he discovers the position has been eliminated. He begins work as a mailman and works his way up to an executive role through guts, persuasion and business-savvy.
42. The Social Network
This is the tale of the founding and rise of Facebook. It reveals the darker side of the story and the controversial release of this international product. It’s another classic tale of outwitting the competition and obtaining a relentless approach to business.
43. The Wolf Of Wall Street
Discover the tale of how luxury and fame can become all-consuming. A young broker named Jordan Belfort risks relationships, stability, and freedom for the sake of wealth. His fun is short-lived as the FBI quickly closes in on his fraudulent scheme.
44. Too Big To Fail
This drama reviews the 2008 financial meltdown and the US government’s frantic attempt to avoid the disaster. It’s truly informational and a good study for any businessman.
45. Trading Places
This popular comedy uncovers the many walks of life and offers an interesting take on how circumstances can impact success. In a risky bet, two brothers manage to swap the lives of a successful broker with a known drug dealer and thief. The results are astounding.
46. Tucker The Man And His Dream
This is the ultimate man movie as it explores business in the auto industry. It follows the life and obstacles of Preston Tucker as he works to introduce his revolutionary model to the auto industry. He is met with a stream of challenges and ultimately forced to give up his dream.
47. Wall Street
This film warns against the dangers of greed as it follows a young stockbroker’s desperate measures to rise to the top of Wall Street. He engages in risky and illegal insider trading tactics and pays the ultimate price.
48. War Dogs
This exploitative drama explores the story of two young gentlmen who get involved with the international arms trade. Their venture quickly leads them in over their heads and lands them in business with some shady characters.