20 Movies Every Entrepreneur Should Watch
To help you choose a movie that’ll inspire, educate, and entertain, here’s a list of 20 movies every entrepreneur should watch.
What Are the Best Movies for Entrepreneurs?
1. Glengarry Glen Ross
This film follows the struggles of four real estate salespeople who are challenged by a trainer (played by Alec Baldwin) with a sales contest. While you won’t want to emulate the high-pressure and deceptive tactics the salespeople employ, there are several scenes that’ inspire any sales team.
Jennifer Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, a real-life inventor and entrepreneur who rose to fame with her self-wringing plastic mop. Using her uncanny ability to sell her many inventions, Mangano went on to build an empire.
3. The Founder
Ray Kroc’s ruthlessly effective businesses practices might not make him a fan favorite, but they’re what made McDonald’s into a global powerhouse. The Founder depicts Kroc’s unlikely rise to riches and his uncanny ability to scale an operation.
4. The Pursuit of Happyness
Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, an entrepreneur who loses his wife and home in this dramatized biographical film that’ll leave you inspired. Through hard work, Gardner works his way into a lucrative full-time position despite his severely limiting circumstances.
5. Coco Before Chanel
In this biographical drama, you learn about the unlikely and inspirational rise of Coco Chanel, who earns success despite being abandoned in an orphanage as a child. The film follows her time spent as a performer and seamstress, her ascent into high society, and the establishment of her successful hat business.
Jobs is based on Steve Jobs’s life from his time as a student at Reed College until the introduction of the first iPod. It’s a motivating look at the early, scrappy days of Apple, Jobs’s ousting from his own company, and his triumphant return.
7. Erin Brockovich
The real-life story this film dramatizes is a classic David vs. Goliath situation that’ll have any entrepreneur cheering. On behalf of the residents of Hinkley, California, Brockovich takes on the giant Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in a $300 million-dollar class action lawsuit for contaminating groundwater with cancer-causing chemicals.
8. Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened
This documentary details the lead-up and spectacular downfall of a music festival that had been heavily promoted on Instagram by top influencers. The film serves as a cautionary tale to entrepreneurs who need to know when it’s time to admit that they’re in over their head.
This crime drama is loosely based on a mining scandal in which Bre-X geologists overstated the contents of a gold mine the company had purchased. As a result, Bre-X’s stock price soared from pennies to almost $300 per share even before independent due diligence was done on the mine.
The film serves as a cautionary tale, showing the dangers of investing based purely on unsubstantiated hype.
10. Becoming Warren Buffett
Most depictions of entrepreneurs make you think you’ll need incredible charisma or another unattainable quality. Yet this documentary depicts Buffett as someone we can all strive to be like: a refreshingly normal but determined person with an unrelenting thirst for knowledge.
11. The Big Short
For any entrepreneur who wants an entertaining way to understand what caused the 2008 financial crisis, The Big Short is the movie to watch. With plenty of drama and laughs, this film follows a few separate but related storylines to illustrate the financial crisis from beginning to end.
12. Office Space
This cult classic comedy won’t exactly show you how to run a business, but it’ll give you plenty of laughs and quotes to reference. The film depicts the perspective of several unengaged employees who grow increasingly upset with management and hatch an ill-advised scheme to take down the company.
13. Flash of Genius
A cautionary tale that’ll teach you the importance of protecting your ideas, this film is based on the real-life story of Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper. The film details Kearns’s invention, his attempt to sell it to automakers, and the landmark patent infringement case he filed against Ford.
This movie is the story of the Oakland A’s legendary general manager, Billy Beane, who used statistical analysis to revolutionize how major league teams evaluate players. His radical, new methods cause tension within the A’s organization before leading to a historically successful season.
15. Burt’s Buzz
This documentary provides a look into the life of the eccentric entrepreneur, Burt Shavitz, who started beekeeping to make a little money and soon turned into an international icon. The film details Shavitz’s role as his brand’s spokesperson, his poor relationship with his business partner, and the astronomical growth of his company (Burt’s Bees).
16. Hidden Figures
Based on a true story, this film tells the untold story of several African-American women who worked as human computers and played an integral role in the Space Race. The story centers on Katherine Goble, who despite facing racism, still earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work.
It’ll be hard not to be inspired while watching this dramatized, real-life story of Rudy Ruettiger, an undersized kid from a blue-collar family who dreams of playing football for Notre Dame. In pursuit of his dream, Rudy supports himself as he works through community college, so he can transfer to Notre Dame and earn a spot on the practice squad.
18. The Imitation Game
This historical drama is about Alan Turing, a mathematician who worked for British intelligence to decode German communications during World War II. Turing doesn’t work well with others, but after he is put in charge of a team dedicated to breaking the German’s most complicated codes, he manages to earn the team’s respect.
19. The Wolf of Wall Street
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a young man who opens his own brokerage firm after losing his entry-level job as a stockbroker. The film, based on Belfort’s personal memoir, depicts Belfort’s rapid rise to wealth and his equally rapid descent when the FBI starts investigating his firm’s fraudulent, illegal methods.
20. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
This documentary chronicles the rise and fall of Theranos, a medical technology company founded by Elizabeth Holmes who made false claims about the company’s blood-testing technology. The film features interviews with journalists, doctors, and Theranos advisers, who discuss the methods and motivations behind the scam.
Every business owner, at some point or another, hits a wall that may seem insurmountable. You can keep grinding at it or take a break and watch one (or more) of the films we mentioned above. Then, you can get back to work with a fresh and inspired mind.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.