Also see our updated story on the business movies MBA professors most recommend.
You can only learn so much from case studies. Sure, the lessons may be grounded in the real world, with real people suffering real consequences. In the end, do these examples really stick with you? Do you mimic lines from a study to your friends? And do you occasionally return to a key person or decision in a study and think, “I can really see myself doing that.”
Sometimes, the best way to translate reality is through fiction. And no genre resonates more with people than cinema. Take the topic of business. Our work consumes over a third of our lives. For many, work is a community where they fulfill their life’s mission. In that world, you’ll find the great truths: The corrosive effect of power, money, and hubris; the fruits of hope, sweat and perseverance; the trade-offs and unforeseen results inherent to making decisions; and the ever-present opportunity for reconciliation and redemption.
Hollywood may embellish reality, but the behind-the-scenes business dealings in movies often reflect the real world all too closely. From Jordan Belfort to Howard Hughes, movie storytelling takes us inside deeply flawed, three-dimensional characters, whose key moments of achievement, betrayal, and epiphany remind us of our own potential and frailty. Whether we admire or loathe these characters, we remember them – and the cautionary lessons many represent.
Looking for some practical lessons that may get lost in a case study? Here are ten must-see movies for MBA students that will amp up your business acumen with an up close and personal look at the temptations and ambiguities you’re bound to eventually face:
1) Wall Street
This has to be right at the top if you talk about must-watch movies for business students. The movie digs into everything a business hides behind the scenes. As a thrilling journey into Gordon Gekko’s life, it shows exactly how people barter their morals to become filthy rich and make it big on Wall Street, with principles like, “Money is everything,” and “Greed is good.” Take those lessons with a grain of salt!
2) The Insider
Al Pacino and Russell Crowe share the screen in this movie, which is reason enough to watch it, but it’s also a must-watch to know what ethics and integrity in business really mean. It’s a story of a man who is faced with an ugly choice of doing the right thing and risking his life, or keeping his mouth shut.
3) Tucker : A Man and His Dream
Searching for some inspiration to trigger your spirits before a leap into the world of entrepreneurship? This movie can be your unforgettable inspiration. Make yourself feel good while this movie works as an inspiration to your psyche by telling you exactly what it is like to follow your dreams…a bed of roses…but roses with spurs, where you have to make sacrifices.
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