Updated: Aug 9, 2021
Each of these movies is a masterclass in starting and scaling a business that touches on resourcefulness, invention, relationships, and more. Plus, the inspiration that comes from them is priceless.
Being an entrepreneur is very very hard. One reason for this is it is simply a very unpredictable endeavor to take on. Dreaming up an idea, starting a business around it from scratch, and then scaling it comes with many pitfalls.
What I find most helpful with the below list of movies is that they give you a nice view into the importance of creating the right partnerships, ingenuity, and out-of-the-box thinking. Plus, although many portray the challenges and difficulties in ramping a business, they also show great inspiration when it all works and lands behind talented efforts.
1. Joy (I) (2015) PG-13 | 124 min | Biography, Drama Joy is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.
Director: David O. Russell | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramírez 2. The Founder (2016) PG-13 | 115 min | Biography, Drama The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers' innovative fast food eatery, McDonald's, into the biggest restaurant business in the world, with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale, John C. Reilly 4. Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) PG | 110 min | Biography, Comedy, Drama The story of Preston Tucker, the maverick car designer and his ill-fated challenge to the auto industry with his revolutionary car concept.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Joan Allen, Martin Landau, Frederic Forrest 5. The Social Network (2010) PG-13 | 120 min | Biography, Drama As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
Director: David Fincher | Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rooney Mara 6. Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999 TV Movie) Not Rated | 95 min | Biography, Drama, History History of Apple and Microsoft.
Director: Martyn Burke | Stars: Anthony Michael Hall, Noah Wyle, Joey Slotnick, J.G. Hertzler 7. Startup.com (2001) R | 107 min | Documentary Traces the birth and failure of new media company govWorks.com.
Directors: Chris Hegedus, Jehane Noujaim | Stars: Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Tom Herman, Kenneth Austin, Tricia Burke 8. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) R | 100 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery An examination of the machinations behind the scenes at a real estate office.
Director: James Foley | Stars: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin 9. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) R | 180 min | Biography, Crime, Drama Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stock-broker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey 10. Fyre (2019) TV-MA | 97 min | Documentary, Crime, Music An exclusive behind the scenes look at the infamous unraveling of the Fyre music festival.
11. Moneyball (2011) PG-13 | 133 min | Biography, Drama, Sport Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.
12. Steve Jobs (2015) R | 122 min | Biography, Drama Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.
Director: Danny Boyle | Stars: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels 13. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) PG-13 | 117 min | Biography, Drama A struggling salesman takes custody of his son as he's poised to begin a life-changing professional career.
14. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) R | 110 min | Documentary, Biography, History A documentary about the Enron corporation, its faulty and corrupt business practices, and how they led to its fall.
Director: Alex Gibney | Stars: John Beard, Tim Belden, Barbara Boxer, George W. Bush 15. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) TV-14 | 119 min | Documentary The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made female billionaire, and the massive fraud that collapsed the company.
16. The Great Hack (2019) TV-MA | 114 min | Documentary, Biography, History The Cambridge Analytica scandal is examined through the roles of several affected persons.
Directors: Karim Amer, Jehane Noujaim | Stars: Brittany Kaiser, David Carroll, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, Ravi Naik 17. Becoming Warren Buffett (2017) TV-PG | 90 min | Documentary The legendary investor started out as an ambitious, numbers-obsessed boy from Nebraska and ended up becoming one of the richest and most respected men in the world.
18. Flash of Genius (2008) PG-13 | 119 min | Biography, Drama Robert Kearns takes on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.
Director: Marc Abraham | Stars: Greg Kinnear, Lauren Graham, Alan Alda, Tim Eddis 19. The Corporation (2003) Not Rated | 145 min | Documentary, History A documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance.
20. Suckers (II) (1999) R | 87 min | Comedy Ever bought a used car from a dealer before? Want to know what REALLY happens behind the scenes? This movie offers some insight through the eyes of one of the dealers.
Director: Roger Nygard | Stars: Joe Yannetty, Jake Johannsen, Daniel Benzali, David Ackert 21. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009) R | 89 min | Comedy Used-car liquidator Don Ready is hired by a flailing auto dealership to turn their Fourth of July sale into a majorly profitable event.
Director: Neal Brennan | Stars: Jeremy Piven, Ving Rhames, David Koechner, James Brolin 22. Lord of War (2005) R | 122 min | Action, Crime, Drama An arms dealer confronts the morality of his work as he is being chased by an INTERPOL Agent.
23. Rogue Trader (1999) R | 101 min | Crime, Drama, History The story of Nick Leeson, an ambitious investment broker who singlehandedly bankrupted one of the oldest and most important banks in Britain.
Director: James Dearden | Stars: Ewan McGregor, Anna Friel, Cristian Solimeno, Lorna Pegler 24. The Godfather (1972) R | 175 min | Crime, Drama An organized crime dynasty's aging patriarch transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton 25. The Devil Wears Prada (2006) PG-13 | 109 min | Comedy, Drama A smart but sensible new graduate lands a job as an assistant to Miranda Priestly, the demanding editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine.
Director: David Frankel | Stars: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Adrian Grenier, Emily Blunt 26. Baby Boom (1987) PG | 110 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance The life of super-yuppie J.C. is thrown into turmoil when she inherits a baby from a distant relative.
27. Chef (2014) R | 114 min | Adventure, Comedy, Drama A head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.
28. Risky Business (1983) R | 99 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama A Chicago teenager is looking for fun at home while his parents are away, but the situation quickly gets out of hand.
29. Working Girl (1988) R | 113 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss' job.
Director: Mike Nichols | Stars: Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Alec Baldwin 30. A Most Violent Year (2014) R | 125 min | Action, Crime, Drama In New York City 1981, an ambitious immigrant fights to protect his business and family during the most dangerous year in the city's history.
Director: J.C. Chandor | Stars: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Alessandro Nivola 31. American Gangster (2007) R | 157 min | Biography, Crime, Drama An outcast New York City cop is charged with bringing down Harlem drug lord Frank Lucas, whose real life inspired this partly biographical film.
Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin 32. Burnt (I) (2015) R | 101 min | Comedy, Drama Adam Jones is a chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars.
Director: John Wells | Stars: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Daniel Brühl, Riccardo Scamarcio 33. There Will Be Blood (2007) R | 158 min | Drama 8.2 A story of family, religion, hatred, oil and madness, focusing on a turn-of-the-century prospector in the early days of the business.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano, Ciarán Hinds, Martin Stringer 34. American Hustle (2013) R | 138 min | Crime, Drama A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild F.B.I. Agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and the Mafia.
Director: David O. Russell | Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence 35. War Dogs (2016) R | 114 min | Biography, Comedy, Crime Loosely based on the true story of two young men, David Packouz and Efraim Diveroli, who won a three hundred million dollar contract from the Pentagon to arm America's allies in Afghanistan.
Director: Todd Phillips | Stars: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Steve Lantz, Gregg Weiner 36. Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) PG-13 | 134 min | Biography, Drama, Music The story of the legendary British rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid (1985).
Director: Bryan Singer | Stars: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy 37. Lawless (2012) R | 116 min | Crime, Drama Set in Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.
Director: John Hillcoat | Stars: Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, Guy Pearce, Jason Clarke 38. The Secret of My Success (1987) PG-13 | 111 min | Comedy, Romance A talented young man can't get an executive position without rising through the ranks, so he comes up with a shortcut, which also benefits his love life.
Director: Herbert Ross | Stars: Michael J. Fox, Helen Slater, Richard Jordan, Margaret Whitton 39. Nightcrawler (2014) R | 117 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller When Louis Bloom, a con man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
Director: Dan Gilroy | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, Riz Ahmed 40. Father of Invention (2010) PG-13 | 93 min | Comedy, Drama After 8 years in prison, inventor Robert Axle struggles to win over his estranged family and catch up on current technology as he works to once again become the king of the infomercial.
Director: Trent Cooper | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Camilla Belle, Heather Graham, Johnny Knoxville 41. Tesla (I) (2020) PG-13 | 102 min | Biography, Drama A freewheeling take on visionary inventor Nikola Tesla, his interactions with Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan's daughter Anne, and his breakthroughs in transmitting electrical power and light.
Director: Rowdy Herrington | Stars: Patrick Swayze, Kelly Lynch, Sam Elliott, Ben Gazzara 43. Love & Mercy (2014) PG-13 | 121 min | Biography, Drama, Music In the 60s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 80s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
Director: Bill Pohlad | Stars: John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Giamatti 44. Trumbo (2015) R | 124 min | Biography, Crime, Drama In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood's top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.
Director: Jay Roach | Stars: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K. 45. Walk the Line (2005) PG-13 | 136 min | Biography, Drama, Music A chronicle of country music legend Johnny Cash's life, from his early days on an Arkansas cotton farm to his rise to fame with Sun Records in Memphis, where he recorded alongside Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins.
Director: James Mangold | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick 46. Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018) PG-13 | 95 min | Documentary, Biography An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host Fred Rogers.