The Big Short is a biographical comedy-drama directed by Adam McKay and written by him and Charles Randolph. The film follows true accounts of three concurrent stories leading up to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which began owing to the housing bubble in the United States.
In The Big Short, we witness big names such as Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, and with them are Melissa Leo, and Hamish Linklater, among others. It follows a group of people who decide to bet against the banks as they seem to have discovered something of which no one else is aware.
The film won itself an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and received other nominations as well. Our favorite films like The Big Short are The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Moneyball (2011), and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). For these and more great recommendations, read on.
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
Released in 2013, this epic biographical black comedy crime film was directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese. The lead character, whose memoir the film is based on, is Jordan Belfort. We follow him, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, as he goes from being a small timer to seeing his company engage in high levels of corruption and fraud.
If you enjoyed the concept of being one step ahead of the game and playing others in The Big Short, you will undoubtedly relish the depiction of greed and the money-hungry nature of those in this film. If you enjoyed the breaking of the fourth wall, it also occurs in this film, but not as frequently.
Along with Dicaprio are Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Kyle Chandler, who plays an FBI agent trying to bring Belfort down. They give exceptional performances, and the film was nominated for Academy Awards, and DiCaprio managed to win himself a Golden Globe. The film had a box office of $392 million from a budget of $100 million.
This is a biographical film that was released in 2011 and was directed by Bennett Miller. The screenplay was written by Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin, but was based on a 2003 book by Michael Lewis.
It tells the story of a man, Billy Beane, who takes an unorthodox route to put together a baseball team and turns the game on its head by signing on undervalued players. They use a limited budget and take a sabermetric approach to headhunting and analyzing potential players.
If you enjoyed the unconventional methods of doing things in The Big Short, you will relish this film, which stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill. The movie was nominated for six Academy Awards and was praised, particularly for its stellar performances. It turned its budget of $50 million into a box office of $110.2 million.
3. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
If you enjoy the thrill of watching our characters playing against the odds and risking it big, then this 2010 drama will certainly match up to what you’d expect from such a film. This is the sequel to the original 1987 Wall Street, and this time we follow along as the characters traverse the 2008 financial crash.
The movie is primarily centered on the apparent reformed Gordon Gekko, who went to prison due to being involved in inside trading. He is now trying to salvage the relationship with his estranged daughter, and her fiancé attempts to help. Things heat up pretty quickly, and their lives are thrown into turmoil.
The cast sports big names, such as Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan, Shia LaBeouf, and Josh Brolin. The director of the film was Oliver Stone, and it received positive reviews for the most part. It had a budget of $70 million and managed to make $134.7 million at the box office.
This 2018 biographical black comedy-drama was written and like The Big Short, directed by Adam McKay. The film follows the story of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who is on an unstoppable course to being the most powerful vice president in the history of America.
Like those of the characters in The Big Short, his methods are to be questioned, although Christian Bale’s performance makes it hard not to fall in love with the portrayal. Along with Bale are Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Justin Kirk, and Sam Rockwell.
The critics both loved and hated the film; however, it won many accolades and had eight Oscar, six Golden Globes, and six BAFTA nominations. Christian Bale won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. The film had a budget of $60 million and only made back a box office of $76.1 million.
5. Margin Call
This 2011 financial thriller, like The Big Short and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, takes place during the 2007–2008 financial crash. It was the directorial debut of J.C. Chandor, and he certainly did himself justice.
The film runs over twenty-four hours and takes place at a Wall Street investment bank, for the most part. The story is focused on key employees and what they decide to do with their newfound knowledge of the occurring events. The trust between colleagues is brought into question, and much is at stake for all involved.
The movie comprises an ensemble cast of Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Zachary Quinto, Simon Baker, and Penn Badgley. The response to the film was outstanding, and although it only made $19.5 million at the box office, that is a fair return for a budget of only $3.5 million.
6. Boiler Room
This crime drama film, released in 2000 and directed by Ben Younger, is about an individual who wishes to make it big and profit well, via not so kosher means.
Set in 1999, the film follows Seth Davis, a nineteen-year-old college dropout who opts to run an unlicensed casino from his house. One night a friend of his introduces him to one Greg Weinstein, who recruits him to come and work for a brokerage firm.
The film’s excellent pacing and expert writing were highly praised; however, some were left feeling disappointed by the film’s ending. It did alright at the box office by turning a $7 million budget into a box office of $28 million.
7. The Founder
Although things are done a bit more by the book in this biographical drama, which John Lee Hancock directed, there is still plenty of drama that unfolds in this 2016 film.
The story follows Ray Kroc’s creation of Mcdonald’s, the highly popular fast-food chain, after meeting the McDonald brothers, the founders of the initial restaurant. Michael Keaton is in the lead role and was praised for his performance as Kroc, who began his journey as a traveling milkshake machine salesman.
The film received good reviews, as a whole, and not only for Keaton’s performance. At the box office, it made a conservative amount though of $24.1 million from a budget of $10 million.
This 2015 biographical comedy-drama was written and directed by David O. Russell and follows the story of a woman who managed to become a millionaire, pretty much single-handedly, by creating her business empire.
The tensions felt in The Big Short are also prevalent in this film and center around someone trying to make it big, despite what those around her are saying. She, however, does not play dirty but is a strong-willed and determined woman who will not let others stick their fingers in her business.
The leading lady is Jennifer Lawrence, and she takes the role of Joy Mangano. Along with her are Robert De Niro, Édgar Ramírez, Bradley Cooper, Virginia Madsen, and Diane Ladd. The film received mixed reviews, mainly due to its pacing, but it made a box office return of $101.1 million from a $60 million budget.
9. 99 Homes
A 2014 drama film, directed by Ramin Bahrani, which he and Amir Naderi wrote, follows Dennis Nash, who is served with an eviction notice and then enters the employment of his evictor to keep his family home. Unfortunately, in return for his win, many others have to lose.
The film is gripping and full of tense moments, and like The Big Short, what is right is brought into question. Andrew Garfield plays Nash, along with Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, and Tim Guinee.
The film was well-received by critics who hailed it for its relevance and provocation, saying that it was not merely a drama, but rather a drama/thriller that keeps the audience wondering what will happen next. Unfortunately, the box office return on a budget of $8 million was a meager $1.9 million.
10. The Social Network
Directed by David Fincher, it is a 2010 biographical drama. It shows us the ins and outs of the founding and creation of the social media giant Facebook and the lawsuits which ensued. Like The Big Short, there is greed and methods that are somewhat unethical at play.
Playing the role of Mark Zuckerberg was Jesse Eisenberg, along with names such as Andrew Garfield, Armie Hammer, Justin Timberlake, and Max Minghella.
The film received praise from most critics for its exceptional direction and remarkable performances by the cast. Its relatively small budget of $40 million, made a rather good return of $224.9 million at the box office.
This heist drama film was directed by Robert Luketic and came out in 2008. If you enjoyed the high stakes and suspense of The Big Short and whether or not things would play out well for the characters, then you’ll relish this film.
The plot follows an MIT student who is exceptionally good with numbers but has a problem that he cannot solve: the payment of his tuition fees. This is when his lecturer and some fellow students involve him in a ploy to learn the art of card counting and put it to use in the casinos of Las Vegas.
This rush of a film stars Jim Sturgess, Laurence Fishburne, Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, and Liza Lapira. Even though it received some negative reviews from critics, it faired rather well at the box office and managed to pull in $159.8 million after spending $35 million on the production.
12. The Pursuit of Happyness
The film was released in 2006 and is a biographical drama film directed by Gabriele Muccino and follows the story, which was based on a best-selling memoir of the same name that Chris Gardner wrote. In this film, the character tries to do honest work and just to get by to look after his son after his wife leaves him.
Will Smith plays the role of Gardner in the film, and we follow his story of being homeless for nearly a year while he tried to obtain work as a broker, which he first starts out in as an unpaid intern.
The film received a strange mix of reviews; however, where it counts, Smith was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his performance. The film also performed well at the box office and saw its $55 million budget bring in a return of $307.1 million.
13. Catch Me If You Can
Released in 2002, this pseudo-biographical crime film was both produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. Instead of a group of grown men, it follows a youth who manages to live a high life by cashing in fraudulent cheques. It is similar to The Big Short, as you are sure to be wondering how it will all play out in the end.
Based on an autobiographical book by Frank Abagnale, who apparently was on the run from the FBI at the age of nineteen following a string of antics, the film sees him pose as a prosecutor, doctor, and Pan American World Airways pilot.
Some question the legitimacy of the story, but it certainly has a significant entertainment factor. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the lead role, and Tom Hanks, the FBI agent, Carl Hanratty, is chasing him. The critics loved the film, and it performed just as well at the box office, turning its budget of $52 million into a sizeable $352.1 million.
Additionally, the film was nominated for Academy and Golden Globe Awards.
14. The Company Men
The Company Men, which was released in 2010 and both written and directed by John Wells, is a movie about making a success of oneself despite the odds and challenges put in front of us. If you liked the stick to it attitude of those in The Big Short, this one will sit well with you.
The film features Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Costner. Bobby Walker, played by Affleck, is a white-collar worker at a corporate company known as Global Transportation Systems. When he loses his job and is forced to take a blue-collar job, he feels that he is failing in life, but his “can do” attitude pays off at the end of the day.
Despite its favorable reception from audience members, it received an average rating from critics and did not fare too well at the box office. It only managed to make a return of $8.1 million from a budget of $15 million.
15. Too Big To Fail
This biographical drama television film was directed by Curtis Hanson and based on the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It also deals with the 2008 financial crash, as is seen in The Big Short.
As mentioned, it followed the financial meltdown and focused on the action of the U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. We watch as they try to subvert the crisis and what eventually unfolds. The film stars William Hurt as Henry Paulson, and additionally, there is Edward Asner, Billy Crudup, Paul Giamatti, Kathy Baker, and Topher Grace.
It received 11 nominations at the Primetime Emmy Awards, and Paul Giamatti’s performance earned him a Screen Actors Guild Award. As it was released on HBO, it is hard to tell what earnings the film accumulated, but the critical response was mostly favorable.
16. War Dogs
Directed by Todd Phillips, this dark comedy film was released in 2016. And if you relished the quick pacing and adrenaline-inducing scenes of The Big Short, then you’ll indeed find War Dogs to your liking.
This film was based on the actual events of two rather amateur arms dealers who managed to get a contract with the U.S. Army to supply ammunition worth approximately $300 million for the Afghan National Army. It is highly dramatized, and the events herein may not be an entirely faithful representation of the actual events that took place.
Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Bradley Cooper, and Miles Teller star in this action-packed film, and despite being a wild and highly comical ride, only managed to make $86.2 million at the box office, after having spent a budget of $50 million.
17. Money Monster
This 2016 crime thriller film was directed by Jodie Foster and was meticulously written and overall well executed. It does not deal with people trying to make money off of the foreboding financial crash of 2008 but instead looks at the story of a man who lost everything due to those on Wall Street.
The man takes a television host and his producer hostage and is emphatic that he demands answers to how he lost out. George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, and Dominic West star in this thrill ride of a movie, and the performances are excellent, with the tension remaining high throughout.
Critics were split in their feelings about the movie, with some calling it astounding, while others found it subpar. Its budget of $27.4 million was able to make an acceptable return of $93.3 million.
18. Molly’s Game
Molly’s Game is a 2017 biographical crime drama written and directed by Aaron Sorkin in his directorial debut. It is a story of a woman who makes her way to the top and then is left to watch as her empire falls apart.
Unlike The Big Short, Molly does not work on Wall Street, but she does run some shady business in the form of an underground poker empire, which causes her to become the target of an FBI investigation.
Jessica Chastain plays Molly Bloom, and with her are Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, Jeremy Strong, and Michael Cera. Chastain managed to earn a Golden Globe nomination for her work. The movie itself also received nominations for the Academy Awards, Writers Guild of America Awards, the Golden Globes, and BAFTA Awards.
The box office did not reflect the great reviews and reception the film received, as it only made $59.3 million on its $30 million budget.
Directed by John Wells, Burnt is a 2015 drama that follows one man’s obsession with making it as a chef. It does not have the same unorthodox manners as those in The Big Short, but it certainly has its own.
We follow Adam Jones, who was a chef at a high-class restaurant until his drug use and explosive behavior see him out of a job. He then goes into exile in New Orleans and tries to sober up before setting his eyes on heading to London to restart his career.
The film stars Bradley Cooper in the lead, along with Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, Omar Sy, Riccardo Scamarcio, Matthew Rhys, and Alicia Vikander. Overall the script did not fare well with the critics, but Cooper’s performance was praised. The film earned $36.6 million on a budget of $20 million.
20. Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs is a biographical drama directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. It was released in 2015 and is about a team of people, headed by Jobs, who try to ensure that their mistakes do not lead to public humiliation.
The year is 1984, and the Apple Macintosh 128K’s voice demo fails immediately before its official unveiling. Steve demands that the engineer, Andy Hertzfeld fixes the problem, threatening to publically humiliate him. In the end, Hertzfeld suggests that they fake the demo and use the Macintosh 512K computer, which is still a prototype, instead.
Michael Fassbender plays Steve Jobs, and with him are Kate Winslet, Katherine Waterston, Seth Rogen, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Fassbender and Winslet received nominations for Academy Awards, Winslet won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award, and Sorkin won a Golden Globe for the screenplay. Although it was a critical success, the film only made back $34.4 million off its $30 million budget.
21. The Ides Of March
This 2011 political drama was directed by George Clooney, who also happened to both write and star in the film. The film was adapted from the 2008 play, Farragut North, by Beau Willimon, who also worked on the screenplay with Clooney and Grant Heslov.
Although not on the backdrop of Wall Street, this film plays on a big stage as it deals with the campaigning for the presidency of America. We follow Stephen Meyers, a junior campaign manager for Mike Morris, the Governor of Pennsylvania. Together they are competing against Arkansas Senator, Ted Pullman.
The film stars Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti, and Jeffrey Wright. It received good reviews from critics and was chosen as one of the top ten films of 2011 by the National Board of Review. Additionally, the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Gosling was given a Golden Globe Award nomination.
It also did reasonably well at the box office as it managed to turn its $12.5 million budget into a decent $76.3 million.
Directed by Nicholas Jarecki, and released in 2012, Arbitrage is about a hedge fund magnate who lives in New York City. After an accident he is involved with, which could mean prison time, he has to continue to try and cover up lies and secrets to keep his company and life together.
The film stars Richard Gere as Robert Miller, a man who has more dirt on him than those around him would believe. Starring alongside Gere are Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, and Tim Roth.
The film garnered positive reviews from critics who stated it was a gripping thrill ride of events with captivating performances. Despite the excellent response and Gere being nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, it only managed to make a return of $35.5 million from its budget of $12 million.
23. The Laundromat
The Laundromat is a biographical comedy-drama that was released in 2019 and directed by Steven Soderbergh. This film also has a narration which is done expertly through the two characters Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca. The film does not deal with Wall Street, but rather the concept of money laundering.
There are also three concurrent stories, as in The Big Short, of people around the world and connected by their afflictions caused by the machinations of their company. The film is somewhat fictionalized; however, the core plot is true to the actual life events.
The cast includes Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Jeffrey Wright, Antonio Banderas, David Schwimmer, and Matthias Schoenaerts. Despite the star-studded cast, the film received mixed reviews. It was released theatrically before being made available for streaming on Netflix.
24. The Report
The Report is a political drama written and directed by Scott Z. Burns. The plot is thick, and there are plenty of questions that become unraveled as the movie progresses. The stakes are high, and so is the level of tension.
We follow Adam Driver, as Daniel Jones, a staffer, and the Senate Intelligence Committee, as they investigate the potential torture methods used by the CIA, following the September 11 attacks on the twin towers.
The film also stars Annette Bening, Michael C. Hall, Ted Levine, Corey Stoll, and Tim Blake Nelson. The film was praised for its commendable representation of the subject matter and received various awards. It had a short theatrical release which saw it make $517,788 against a budget of $8 million before it was made available on Amazon Prime.
25. Burn After Reading
Burn After Reading is a prime example of how a black comedy crime film ought to be done. It was released in 2008 and written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film, as in The Big Short, follows a pair of individuals who try to profit from others’ losses.
However, in this case, they are not intelligent individuals at the wheel of the story, but rather two dimwitted gym employees, who have found the misplaced memoirs of a recently jobless CIA analyst. They then go on an adventure of trying to cash in on their find.
The movie has Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt in the lead roles, and joining them are George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, J.K. Simmons, and Richard Jenkins. Overall the film sat well with the critics, and it also managed to be nominated for both Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards. It also performed well at the box office and made $168 million from its $37 million budget.