Movies are one of my greatest passions. I find entertainment and inspiration in them. They give me new ideas and make me think of changes or improvements for my company. In this post, I am going to share with you a list of what I believe are the best 30 business movies for entrepreneurs.
I have tried to combine cinematic quality with stories that will give you food for thought for your business.
Take a seat, make yourself comfortable, and don’t forget to get plenty of popcorn! Enjoy yourself!
The Best Business Movies for Entrepreneurs
1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Director: James Foley.
Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin.
Plot: A real estate business based in Chicago proposes a challenge to three of their salesmen. The one who sells the most will get a Cadillac, but the salesman who ranks third and last will be fired.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? You will be able to think about how to make decisions in extreme situations when the survival of your company is at play. Which values are behind your choices? What are the red lines that you would never cross as a business owner? What would you do to guarantee your business survival?
Curiosities: The screenplay was written by playwright and writer David Mamet, and was based on his play with the same name, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1984.
2. The Boss of It All (2006)
Director: Lars Von Trier.
Main cast: Jens Albinus, Iben Hjejle, Peter Gantzler, Louise Mieritz.
Plot: The owner of a tech company creates a fictional president to use as a mask when making tough decisions. When some buyers insist on meeting the president, he doesn’t reveal the truth, and he gets caught in a tangled web of lies.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Sometimes, small dishonest decisions may seem harmless, but they can create significant problems in the future. Never underestimate the destructive power of lies.
Curiosities: Lars Von Trier belongs to the Dogme 95 movement. This is a group of five Danish filmmakers who tried to focus on the importance of the story and actors’ performance over expensive productions, technology, and special effects.
3. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Director: Gabriele Muccino.
Main cast: Will Smith, Thandie Newton, Jaden Smith, Dan Castellaneta.
Plot: Chris Gardner (Will Smith) is a talented but broken salesman. The situation gets worse when he gets evicted from his apartment, and he has to survive on the streets with his five-year-old son. Gardner eventually lands a job at a prestigious brokerage firm. Will he succeed in achieving the American Dream?
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Little has been said about the implications of business failure for business owners’ families. Success can take a toll. To be an entrepreneur, you need to have the mental strength of the main character in the film. You should also be clear about your goals and the potential sacrifices you will have to make that can often affect the people you love most.
Curiosities: Based on the life of Chris Gardner, who went from being broken to become a multi-millionaire and public speaker. He is known as the “CEO of Happiness.” As a philanthropist, he fosters many causes for the disadvantaged. Another curiosity: father and son in the movie are father and son in real life.
4. The Social Network (2010)
Director: David Fincher.
Main cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake.
Plot: Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a Harvard student and a programming genius who develops in his college dorm what will eventually become Facebook. Six years later, with 500 million Facebook users, Zuckerberg is a billionaire. It seems like a success story, but it has a dark side too.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Although cases like Facebook are extraordinary, you will able to find features in common with your small business. The founder’s vision, the growth of the team, the need to set clear goals, the risks, and so on.
Curiosities: Mark Zuckerberg didn’t like the way he was portrayed in the movie at all.
5. The Prestige (2006)
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Main cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie.
Plot: The story follows two magicians in London at the end of the 19th century, Robert Angier and Alfred. Robert (Hugh Jackman) is a refined artist while Alfred (Christian Bale) is a somewhat commoner genius. They start as friends and work together, but they become bitter enemies after a tragic event.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? If you do not deal with competition properly, it may spell disaster instead of encouraging you to do your best for your business.
Curiosities: It took the director and his brother five years to write the screenplay.
6. There Will Be Blood (2006)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson.
Main cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Kevin J. O’Connor, Ciarán Hinds.
Plot: Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) goes on a ruthless quest for money in Texas at the beginning of the 20th century. He ends up building an oil empire, but his limitless ambition will come across an imposing figure, the local preacher.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Fueled by greed, entrepreneurs may become corrupted. Where is the line between healthy ambition and greed?
Curiosities: The movie is based on the novel Oil!, written by Upton Sinclair in 1927, which tells the struggles of oil finders. Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Oscar for best actor. Five years later, he would get his third one.
7. Whiplash (2014)
Director: Damien Chazelle.
Main cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser.
Plot: Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a jazz drummer who wants to make it in an elitist conservatory. His life will change when the strictest instructor chooses him to be part of his exclusive group.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Failure is sometimes necessary to reach excellence. Learning harsh lessons from those who are more experienced is also essential.
Curiosities: It is the cheapest production in history to be an Oscar nominee for best picture. It was filmed and edited in just ten weeks.
8. The King’s Speech (2010)
Director: Tom Hooper.
Main cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush.
Plot: George VI, king of England, has a speech impediment. A peculiar speech therapist, Lionel Logue, will help him cope with it.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? A humble freelance professional serves a king. If you are extraordinary in your field, anyone can be your client, even if you are an ordinary person.
Curiosities: The screenwriter, David Seidler, also had a stutter when he was a kid. The 73-year-old screenwriter is the oldest winner ever of the award.
9. Cinderella Man (2005)
Director: Ron Howard
Main cast: Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti.
Plot: Hit by the Great Depression, boxed Braddock goes back to the ring to earn money to support his family. He isn’t that talented, but his ability to make sacrifices and his motivation make him unbeatable.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Maybe you don’t have exceptional talent. However, if your goals are clear and you are brave and strong-willed, you can go as far as you want.
Curiosities: Russell Crowe adopted the same training methods that Braddock used in the ’30s, and Renée Zellweger had access to over 200 love letters Braddock wrote to his wife.
10. American Gangster (2007)
Director: Ridley Scott.
Main cast: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Carla Gugino, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Brolin, Idris Elba.
Plot: Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), the driver of a Harlem gangster, seizes the opportunity to take control of the drug scene when his boss dies. Little by little and by following a strict code of conduct, he creates an empire as a drug dealer. On the other side of the law, we find Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe), an honest detective with another unbreakable code of conduct.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Don’t worry, I won’t recommend you to become a gangster! Yet, you can learn that opposite styles can sometimes be equally successful.
Curiosities: Frank Lucas and Richie Roberts became friends in real life. At the peak of his empire, the first one made one million dollars a day by selling heroin.
11. A Day Without a Mexican (2004)
Director: Sergio Arau.
Main cast: Caroline Aaron, Tony Abatemarco, Melinda Allen, Frankie J. Allison, Fernando Arau.
Plot: It seems to be a typical day in California, but their inhabitants gradually realize that the Latino population has vanished into thin air.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? This is a satirical comedy that emphasizes the economic and social value of immigrants. The purpose of the director is crystal-clear: to show how devastating the consequences would be if there were no Latinos. Without their contribution, chaos would reign.
Curiosities: Low-budget as it was, this movie was a box-office success in Mexico. The sequel Another Day Without A Mexican is in the making.
12. Mongol (2007)
Director: Sergei Bodrov.
Main cast: Tadanobu Asano, Amadu Mamadakov, Khulan Chuluun.
Plot: As the story unfolds, we learn more about Genghis Khan, a slave that conquered half the world with great effort and determination.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? The importance of having strong motivation, a clear goal, and a flexible and smart action plan.
Curiosities: It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
13. Office Space (1999)
Director: Mike Judge.
Main cast: Ron Livingston, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, Jennifer Aniston, David Herman.
Plot: Programmer Peter Gibbons is fed up with his boss. He is determined to lose his job so that he can get redundancy compensation and spend his money with a young waitress, Joanna. Far from being fired, his actions (like being late and not showing up to work) are considered revolutionary, and he gets a promotion and a salary raise.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? You know what science says: your beliefs change your perception. Ridiculous ideas at work must be detected, challenged, and modified.
Curiosities: The red Swingline stapler featured in the movie is a peculiar case. The manufacturer refused to be part of the film: he was reluctant to show his stapler on the screen, believing that large companies did not use red staplers. The director had to paint the stapler red. Three years later, Swingline launched a red stapler.
14. El método (2005)
Director: Marcelo Piñeyro.
Main cast: Pablo Echarri, Eduardo Noriega, Ernesto Alterio, Eduard Fernández, Najwa Nimri.
Plot: Seven candidates for a high-rank executive position with very different personalities take a selection test. They will soon find out that the method of selection is very uncommon.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? How do you select your staff, and what tests do you give them? Is your method effective?
Curiosities: Based on the play El Método Grönholm by Jordi Galcerán. Save yourself the search: “the Grönholm method” does not exist.
15. Nightcrawler (2014)
Director: Dan Gilroy.
Main cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, René Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton.
Plot: Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhall) is unemployed and finds a way of making money as a freelancer. He gets to crime or accident scenes and sells the pictures he takes to the highest bidder.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Sometimes, you can get an idea to start a business by chance, but you will not succeed if you are not passionate and take risks.
Curiosities: Nightcrawlers do exist. They are professional freelancers who monitor emergency services through scanners. They get around Los Angeles looking for crimes, traffic accidents, or any other violent scene and sell their pictures to television networks. The director and the protagonist spent time with real LA nightcrawlers, and they were shocked at the real-life images they saw.
16. Founder (2016)
Director: John Lee Hancock.
Main cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern.
Plot: In the fifties, Ray Kroc, a salesman from Illinois, meets the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, who run a hamburger restaurant. Kroc notices the restaurant’s potential and gradually takes it over. It becomes a world icon: McDonald’s
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? The movie poster has three absolutely revealing features about the life of a successful entrepreneur: risk taker, rule breaker, and game-changer. Without being the owner of the company, Kroc took control of it and expanded the empire.
Curiosities: Kroc was hung up on quality. In 1961, he launched a training program (“Hamburger University”) so that the owners of franchisees and their employees were adequately trained to manage a McDonald’s restaurant successfully.
17. Moneyball (2011)
Director: Bennett Miller.
Main cast: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt.
Plot: Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics, made his modest club rub shoulders with top leagues through the “Moneyball” method. This consisted of improving players’ performance through statistical analysis. With fewer tools than his competitors, he achieved incredible results.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Technology and innovation are on your side. They are powerful allies. Upgrade and invest in your business technology.
Curiosities: The movie is based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2003) by Michael M. Lewis.
18. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)
Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky.
Main cast: (Documentary)
Plot: The movie introduces us to three real characters, Braid, Super Meat Boy, and Fez. They had to work hard to create videogames and release them to the world.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? The movie was self-financed, which is already an example of entrepreneurship. It breaks clichés of the videogames world because it isn’t as comfortable and as lovely as it seems. We can feel the passion of those who prefer taking risks rather than playing it safe and doing a job they don’t love.
Curiosities: The directors used collective financing through Kickstarter and hos own savings to make the movie.
19. Up in the Air (2009)
Director: Jason Reitman.
Main cast: George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, Jason Bateman, Sam Elliott.
Plot: Downsizer Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) travels all over the country firing people. That’s his job. When he meets his travel companion (Vera Farmiga), he falls for her. His boss (Jason Bateman), prompted by another expert (Anna Kendrick), decides to put an end to his constant travel. Bingham takes Kendrick on tour to show her how important it is to have face-to-face meetings with those they must fire.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Changing your personal priorities can change the direction of your business right away. It is up to you to decide whether your own priorities are more important than your work priorities or not.
Curiosities: The cities where the leading character travels were not randomly chosen. They are places severely affected by unemployment, like Detroit or Phoenix. Anne Kendrick is terrified of flying in real life and had a terrible time while shooting.
20. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Director: Jason Reitman.
Main cast: Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger, Kelly Preston.
Plot: A sports agent is fired, and he is forced to start from scratch with only one client. This life change is the beginning of an unpredictable career.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? If you keep your values top of mind, you can have unprecedented success, no matter how winding the road you take is.
Curiosities: In 2012, businessman Leigh Steinberg, the real-life inspiration of Jerry Maguire’s character, informed that he went bankrupt.
21. Joy (2015)
Director: David O. Russell.
Main cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Isabella Rossellini.
Plot: The movie follows the story of Joy Mangano, who went from a simple worker in Long Island to a famous face in American teleshopping by inventing and selling home products.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Mangano offered her mortgage as collateral to be able to release her first product. She took a considerable risk, but it paid.
Curiosities: The real Joy Mangano holds more than 100 patents for her inventions.
22. Immigrant (2013)
Director: James Gray.
Main cast: Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner.
Plot: Ewa and her sister Magda travel to New York in 1921 from Poland. In Ellis Island, Magda is quarantined for tuberculosis. Alone and helpless, Ewa falls in the hands of Bruno, who forces her into prostitution. However, she is willing to make sacrifices to help her sister.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Like Ewa, many immigrants come to this country every day. Despite hardship, their determination prevents them from giving up. There are unscrupulous people ready to take advantage of many immigrants’ naivety. Still, there are also honest people with a genuine interest in helping others.
Curiosities: The director’s grandparents arrived in America from Kyiv and also went through Ellis Island.
23. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2012)
Director: Mira Nair.
Main cast: Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson.
Plot: Riz Ahmed, a Pakistani graduated from the prestigious Princeton University, lives in New York and dreams of becoming a successful Wall Street financial analyst. Nevertheless, the 9/11 suddenly turns his situation upside-down.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Beliefs, prejudices, values, and chance occurrences sometimes mix and hinder our professional goals.
Curiosities: Based on the novel of the same name by Mohsen Hamid.
24. Lawless (2012)
Director: John Hillcoat.
Main cast: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain.
Plot: The Bourant brothers become bootleggers in Chicago during Prohibition (from 1920 until 1933). Special agent Rakes keeps a close watch on these homemade whiskey smugglers.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? Although the Bourant brothers were entrepreneurs who broke the law, we can learn the importance of knowing how to manage a business and adapt to circumstances that can change in a blink of an eye.
Curiosities: This movie was adapted from The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant. In this novel, the writer tells the story of his own family during Prohibition.
25. Ex Machina (2014)
Director: Alex Garland.
Main cast: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac.
Plot: Nathan is a programming millionaire who selects Caleb, a young employee from his company, to spend a week with him in a remote place in the mountains. He wants him to take part in a test about his latest creation: Ava, a woman-robot with artificial intelligence.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? A fabulous mix of suspense, science fiction, and philosophy. It is perfect for thinking about the position of our business in a world where technology grows at breakneck speed.
Curiosities: To play his role, Oscar Isaac got inspiration from the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and chess player Bobby Fischer, two introvert geniuses with a dark side.
26. Le Couperet (2005)
Director: Costa Gavras.
Main cast: José García, Karin Viard, Geordy Monfils.
Plot: The brilliant executive Bruno Davert has been working at a paper mill for 15 years. The company is forced to downsize, and they have to let him go. Bruno thinks that he will soon find another job, but he is wrong. Desperate, he makes a drastic decision: to remove his competitors.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? How important is it for you the social status and your strategic position? Is climbing the social ladder part of your business plan? What would happen if you lost your status?
Curiosities: The company name in the movie is Arcadia. The director was born in Arcadia, in the Peloponnese (Greece), and emigrated to Paris when he was 22.
27. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Directors: Joel Cohen, Ethan Coen.
Main cast: Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman.
Plot: The president of a large company commits suicide. His second-in-command, Mussburger (Newman), devises a plan to find someone who can easily be manipulated to take his place.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? The power of manipulation in the business world and how you can face it when you are the victim.
Curiosities: Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson turned down the role that was finally accepted by Paul Newman.
28. Peaceful Warrior (2006)
Director: Victor Salva.
Main cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart.
Plot: Dan is a sportsman who has a severe accident. With the help of Socrates (Nick Nolte), a gas station attendant with a big heart, he gets better in record time and competes again.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? The movie has a good deal of very motivating scenes and phrases. It is ideal for regaining optimism, an essential ingredient for any entrepreneur when we feel down.
Curiosities: This movie was adapted from the autobiographical best-seller by Dan Millman, a gymnast and world champion who broke his leg in an accident.
29. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch.
Main cast: James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan, Frank Morgan.
Plot: Alfred Kralik (Stewart) is a shy, honest, and talented clerk in a shop in Budapest. The owner, Mr. Matuschek, is mean to him, but he doesn’t know why. When Klara Novak (Sullavan), a new shop girl, comes on the scene, the situation gets worse.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? This romantic comedy depicts the routines of a small shop in the forties. However, it is interesting to compare the aspects of customer care that are still valid to those that have fortunately changed or disappeared.
Curiosities: The film was inspired by a novel by Hungarian writer Miklós László. But I’m sure the film adaptation You’ve Got Email, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, probably has a more familiar ring to you.
30. The Godfather (1972)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola.
Main cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton.
Plot: The forties: Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of one of the five mafia families in New York. When Corleone refuses to take part in the drug business, a war breaks out in the mafia.
What Can You Learn from This Movie as a Business Owner? During the movie, the line “an offer you can’t refuse” is repeated four times. I encourage you to pay attention to when it is said. Obviously, I don’t support the mafia. Still, it is an example of an organization created around a series of solid values that guarantee its survival. Like in the business world, there is also a clash between traditional and innovative trends. What side are you on?
Curiosities: Coppola took a risk when he suggested Brando for the leading role. The production company accepted this choice, but on three conditions. First, Brando should not receive payment until he finished his job. Second, he should deduct additional expenses from his salary. And third, he should audition for the role. Brando would never accept this type of condition, but he made an exception in this movie.
I hope I made the right choice with these movies. If you liked them, sign up for our newsletter and join our community of business owners. You will enjoy more recommendations, tips, and resources that will inspire you and help you grow your business.