Finished doing your taxes just in time? You deserve a treat: Watch one of these ten great films about money.
If you can take a break from doing your taxes this weekend (or if — lucky you! — you’ve already finished), it seems appropriate to watch a movie about money. “Wall Street” jumps immediately to mind, as does “It’s a Wonderful Life” (though didn’t we all just watch that over the holidays?), but here are ten more suggestions from the past decade or so. Happy IRS Deadline Weekend, everyone!
“The Company Men” (2011): Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper and Tommy Lee Jones play three employees — of varying ages and job seniority — of a New England manufacturing conglomerate. Two of them, in the course of this quiet and beautifully acted film, lose their jobs, and the film becomes a thoughtful examination of what happens when someone loses the thing that defines him. (Bonus: gorgeous cinematography by the great Roger Deakins.)
“Friends with Money“ (2006): Nicole Holofcener’s warm, human comedies (“Enough Said,” “Please Give,” “Lovely and Amazing”) never quite get the attention they deserve. This one, about four 40-ish women (Jennifer Aniston, Joan Cusack, Frances McDormand, Catherine Keener — and wouldn’t you love to have drinks with this quartet?), delicately explores the issue of how money interferes (or doesn’t) with friendship.
“Inside Man” (2006) Bank-heist movies are a dime a dozen, so to speak, but this one, directed by Spike Lee, has a tense, electric spark to it, and a crackerjack cast: Denzel Washington as a hostage negotiator, Clive Owen as the ringleader of the bank robbers, Jodie Foster as a villainous power broker, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Washington’s excitable partner, and Christopher Plummer as a bank chairman with a Dark Secret.
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“Margin Call” (2011): Writer/director J.C. Chandor’s debut feature (he’s since made “All Is Lost” and “A Most Violent Year”) takes place at a Wall Street investment firm in 2o08, during a very long night. It’s essentially a horror story, in which a group of employees learn, one by one, that their company (and fortunes) are built on smoke and mirrors. Timely, taut — and, frankly, terrifying.
“Millions” (2005): “It’s not the money’s fault that it got stolen,” says a little boy in Danny Boyle’s enchanting (and family-friendly) film about a pair of young British brothers who find a suitcase of money by the railroad tracks. As the two very different boys try to figure out what to do with it, “Millions” emerges as a sweet story about faith, hope and charity.
“Ocean’s 11” (2001): Stephen Soderbergh’s heist film is lighter than freshly air-popped popcorn, and just as much fun. (I’m assuming you like popcorn, and George Clooney, as much as I do.) A suave, sunny remake of the 1960 original, it’s the tale of a band of thieves (led by Clooney and Brad Pitt, bantering adorably) who scheme to steal $160 million from three Vegas casinos owned by a smooth operator (Andy Garcia).
“Priceless” (2008): Not too many rom-coms on this list, but here’s one — a French charmer, set at a series of posh hotels on the Riviera, in which a golddigger (Audrey Tautou, summoning all of her “Amelie” wiles) and a would-be gigolo (Gad Elmaleh) strive to improve their fortunes. “I’m sure when you like it,” says Tautou’s character, choking down a spoonful of caviar, “it must be delicious.”
“A Simple Plan” (1998): Sam Raimi’s crime thriller, based on an almost impossibly suspenseful novel by Scott B. Smith, has a simple plot, but it’s perfectly executed: Three working-class men, in the snowy Midwest, find a downed plane and $4 million in cash. It’s drug money, to be sure — but it could change their lives. What to do? Watch and see; you won’t be able to look away.
“Slumdog Millionaire” (2008): Another Danny Boyle film, this warmhearted Oscar-winner is centered on a young man from Mumbai whose fortunes could be transformed by the TV game show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” Nothing comes easily to this character, played charisma and charm by Dev Patel; but he emerges as his story’s appealing hero.
“Working Girl” (1988): This rom-com goes a little further back than the others on this list — look at those ’80s shoulder pads! — but it’s too much fun not to include. Chipper-voiced Tess (Melanie Griffiths) is a Wall Street secretary who yearns to be a player in the world of mergers and acquisitions — and, after some comic tribulations, she gets there, and finds love with Harrison Ford to boot. Let the river run!