12 Favorite Business Movies Of MBAs

The Wolf of Wall Street

Premise: “Sell me this pen” —tThink that’s a tough proposition? Just try selling penny stocks. Yes, this rags-to-riches story is a portrait of the 1990s boiler room, replete with blow-fueled parties, souped up Ferraris, and f-bombs galore. Alas, Stratton Oakmont had few redeeming qualities — and the characters never seemed to learn from their excess, falling prey instead to suicide, prosecution, and bankruptcy. Call it capitalism run amok, a reminder that quick buck artists will ply their dark arts in every bull or bear market.

MBA Says: “This film is clearly not a demonstration of good business practices, but it provides a pretty entertaining example of the need for strong oversight and organizational procedures to ensure that individuals, and especially those in positions of power, don’t act unethically or create a culture that perpetuates such problematic behaviors.”

Isabelle Cox, MIT (Sloan)

Best Movie Quotes:

Jordan Belfort: “So you listen to me and you listen well. Are you behind on your credit card bills? Good, pick up the phone and start dialing! Is your landlord ready to evict you? Good! Pick up the phone and start dialing! Does your girlfriend think you’re a f-ing worthless loser? Good! Pick up the phone and start dialing! I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich!”

Mark Hanna: “OK, first rule of Wall Street: Nobody — and I don’t care if you’re Warren Buffett or Jimmy Buffett — nobody knows if a stock’s going up, down, or f-ing sideways, least of all stockbrokers. But we have to pretend we know.”

Jordan Belfort: “Give them to me young, hungry, and stupid, and in no time, I’ll make ’em rich.”



Premise: “If we play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.” That’s the mantra of any upstart that dares face off against entrenched market players. That’s exactly what Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane did in 2002. After big market teams plundered his roster, Beane decided to compete on his own terms. Unable to match long-term, high-paying contracts as a small market team, Beane chose instead to embrace analytics, identifying undervalued virtues in players and building teams based on quantitative measurements over observation and intuition. Spoiler Alert: Beane’s A’s return to the playoffs, despite boasting one of the league’s lowest payrolls.

MBA Says: “I love how this movie showed that looking at the right data and using statistics can change the game. To be successful, your gut can be important, but analyzing the right data should support it.”

Meredith Dominigue, Southern Methodist University (Cox)

Best Movie Quotes:

Billy Beane: “The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s fifty feet of crap, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game. And now we’ve been gutted. We’re like organ donors for the rich. Boston’s taken our kidneys, Yankees have taken our heart. And you guys just sit around talking the same old ‘good body’ nonsense like we’re selling jeans. Like we’re looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies.”

Peter Brand: “It’s about getting things down to one number. Using the stats the way we read them, we’ll find value in players that no one else can see. People are overlooked for a variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws. Age, appearance, personality. Bill James and mathematics cut straight through that. Billy, of the 20,000 notable players for us to consider, I believe that there is a championship team of twenty-five people that we can afford, because everyone else in baseball undervalues them, like an island of misfit toys.”

John Henry: “For forty-one million, you built a playoff team. You lost Damon, Giambi, Isringhausen, Pena and you won more games without them than you did with them. You won the exact same number of games that the Yankees won, but the Yankees spent one point four million per win and you paid two hundred and sixty thousand. I know you’ve taken it in the teeth out there, but the first guy through the wall, it always gets bloody, always. It’s the threat of not just the way of doing business, but in their minds it’s threatening the game. But really what it’s threatening is their livelihoods, it’s threatening their jobs, it’s threatening the way that they do things. And every time that happens, whether it’s the government or a way of doing business or whatever it is, the people are holding the reins, have their hands on the switch. They go batshit crazy. I mean, anybody who’s not building a team right and rebuilding it using your model, they’re dinosaurs. They’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series.”

The Intern

Premise: “You can do anything and be anyone.” Maybe women can, but it comes with a steep price nonetheless. Meet Jules Ostin, the chronically late founder of a high-flying online fashion startup who pinballs from crisis-to-crisis, always pushing the big issues to another day. However, she meets her match in Ben Whittaker, a 70 year-old widower and former executive who applies to become an intern to cope with boredom. Sure enough, the old dog absorbs new tricks as Jules learns to loosen up without compromising what truly matters.

MBAs Say:

The movie is about a female founder of a retail technology startup, specializing in renting attire for special occasions. The main character, played by Anne Hathaway, wanted to be involved in every part of her company at the expense of her own self-care and family. She had to learn to trust the people around her to provide quality work, while prioritizing her wellness and personal relationships.”

Alana Williams, University of Texas (McCombs)

The biggest lesson I gained from this movie was that businesses can benefit from hiring diverse talent, gleaning unique viewpoints from people with various life experiences.  The movie taught that there is never an age where people have to stop learning, and that being humble and willing to serve others can garner trust and respect from colleagues.”

Jana Soares, Texas A&M (Mays)

Best Movie Quotes:

Jules: “Nobody calls men ‘men’ anymore. Have you noticed? Women went from ‘girls’ to ‘women’. Men went from ‘men’ to ‘boys’? This is a problem in the big picture. Do you know what I mean?”



The Premise: A rat is the worst thing to find in your kitchen …unless he can cook, of course. Turns out, Remy the Rat is a Paris chef par excellence. That’s the basis of Ratatouille, a seemingly-forgotten Pixar release that reminds us that anyone, regardless of station, can excel in the rat race (pun intended).

MBA Says: “The movie is an extension of the idea ‘Everyone has the right to dream’. However, it elaborates that it is not an idea or a dream that makes it big; it is the execution that lets the idea shine. The little mouse, Remy from Ratatouille, aspires to become a chef. He has his goal in sight, knows his strengths, weaknesses and is aware of the ecosystem around him. He crafts an execution strategy to get him to the goal and takes successes and failures head on. We all have a ‘Little Remy’ inside us who dreams; however, often, he is lost even before execution starts. Ratatouille inspires me to stay focused and work hard, regardless of being different or the hardships that life may throw.”

Sonia Sahni, IE Business School

Best Movie Quotes:

Anton Ego: “In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: Anyone can cook. But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.”

Colette: “You think cooking is a cute job, eh? Like mommy in the kitchen? Well mommy never had to face the dinner rush where all the meals are different and none are simple with all the different cooking times and they must all arrive at the customer’s table at exactly the same time, hot and perfect! Every second counts, and you cannot be mommy!”

Go to the next page for The Pursuit of Happyness, The Big Short, and The Devil Wears Prada.

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