Want to escape keep the board room top of mind, but without the boredom? If you have some extra time this holiday season, consider watching one or more than a few of the many watch-worthy movies that relate to the business world. Here are some great that are streaming now in no particular order. Tell us your favorite business-related movies and TV show shows in the comments below.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Quick synopsis: Martin Scorcese’s Hollywood telling of the life of New York stockbroker Jordan Bellfort.
Why it’s great: The movie is full of debauchery and ridiculousness, and therefore serves as the perfect primer of how not to act in the business world, or anywhere, for that matter. Expect genuinely funny performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Coming to Netflix on Dec. 11
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Quick synopsis: A documentary chronicling the rise and fall of Enron and how far the mega corporation would go achieve profits and give off the perception of profitability.
Why it’s great: This very real look at one of the biggest corporate corruption cases ever in the United States is entertaining enough to keep your attention while thought-provoking enough to want to enact real, positive change in the corporate world. Netflix
Quick synopsis: Behind the scenes of the inner workings of a paper sales company.
Why it’s great: The workplace can be funny, and it’s pretty entertaining to pick out who is the Dwight Schrute , Michael Scott or Pam Beesly of your office. Plus, you can get some great ideas for office pranks (putting someone’s stapler into a Jell-o mold, hiding someone’s belongings in a vending machine so they have to buy back their pens and other desk things, etc.) Don’t miss the British version with Ricky Gervais, which also is streaming. Netflix, Amazon Prime
Glengarry Glen Ross
Quick synopsis: Film adaptation of David Mamet’s play about New York real estate salesmen turn to desperation when faced with corporate pressure to perform.
Why it’s great: The award-winning performances offer a realistic depiction of the challenging and often cutthroat world of real estate sales by way of searing, smart and believable dialogue. And how about this tagline: A Story For Everyone Who Works For A Living. Netflix, Amazon Prime
Quick synopsis: Mike Judge’s (King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead) HBO comedy about building a tech startup in Silicon Valley.
Why it’s great: The show pokes fun at the sometime ridiculous and over-indulgent corporate cultures of big tech giants like Google while sweetly portraying how small decisions can make your tech startup go boom or bust. There’s plenty of techy jargon and inside jokes that may go over your head if you’re not part of that world, but the show does a good enough job of appealing to the masses to make a second season coming soon. HBO GO
Quick synopsis: A documentary examining the history of the corporation as an institution.
Why it’s great: Excellent interviews with CEO and other players behind well known corporations portray an impressive critique of corporations, going so far as to compare the institution to a psychopath by using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM III). Amazon Prime
Bonus Picks that aren’t streaming
Quick synopsis: Workers at a software company slog through their mundane workdays, TPS reports, and jammed printers, until one of them comes to the realization that there’s a lot more to life than work.
Why it’s great: Aside from subtle comic performances and classic one liners (“I believe you have my stapler.”), we can empathize with the worker drones in Office Space because we have all had days at work where we “just can’t even,” as the kids say these days.
Pirates of Silicon Valley
Quick synopsis: The battle between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates over control of the personal computer revolution.
Why it’s great: This movie flies under the radar (it was a made for TV movie), and it might look a little dated (awful cover art, plus Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates and Noah Wylie as Steve Jobs may incite some question marks from folks), but this is probably the best and most entertaining representation about the worlds that Gates and Jobs built.
It was annoying, but not wholly surprising, that compiling this list brought some challenges in regards to women and diversity. I was hard pressed find movies or TV shows related to the business world that include strong female characters or persons of color rather than white men behaving badly. Some crowd-sourcing offered suggestions like Norma Rae, The Devil Wears Prada, Pursuit of Happyness, Trading Places, 9 to 5 and Baby Boom. Any others you can think of?