8 films you have to see about money and taxes

Brawny action sequences, cut-throat back room dealings, undercover escapades – sounds like the makings for a gritty dramatic thriller, not a day in the life of an accountant. Thanks to Ben Affleck we get both. Hot from the success of Gone Girl, the actor is currently filming The Accountant, about an, erm… accountant, whose extra-curricular activities include being a gun for hire. Also featuring our favourite comedic sprite Anna Kendrick we can’t wait for the film’s 2016 release. To tide us over until then, here are our top eight films where money, finance and taxes have taken a starring role.

8. The Shawshank Redemption

Plot: A banker wrongfully sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife struggles to survive brutal treatment until he grabs an opportunity to give financial advice to a guard complaining about the tax he’ll have to pay on an inheritance, putting into motion a path to freedom.

Verdict: A classic for a reason.

7. The Adventures of Robin Hood

Plot: Perhaps the most famous tax story ever told, the outlaw archer rebelled against the repressive taxes implemented by Prince John and began his campaign to steal from the rich to give to the poor.

Verdict:  Robin Hood is remade over and over but we’re partial to Errol Flynn’s gallant and cheerful hero in the 1937 version.

6. Margin Call

Plot: Loosely inspired by the bankruptcy of global financial services firm Lehman Brothers, the film follows the excruciating decision making process of the firm’s partners in the 24 hours before the company’s collapse appears imminent.

Verdict: A suspenseful, slow burning thriller with knock-out performances from Kevin Spacey and Jeremy Irons.

5. The Untouchables

Plot: Prohibition profiteer Al Capone is hunted by agents who bring him to justice for tax evasion rather than his criminal racket when police corruption gets in the way.

Verdict: Tax and gangsters; a most unlikely, but enthralling, combination.

4. Catch Me If You Can

Plot: Based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr, a young con artist impersonates a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer while cashing fraudulent checks on a six-year joyride across the globe.

Verdict: Both funny and moving, Leonardo DiCaprio manages to make Abagnale a sympathetic charmer, a lonely teenager as much as an embezzling criminal.

3.  Arbitrage

 Plot: A hedge fund magnate races against the clock to sell his empire before investors recognise it is nothing but a house of cards.

Verdict: Richard Gere’s tense unravelling as he clings to his family, reputation and career is riveting viewing.

2. Wall Street

Plot: In Oliver Stone’s masterpiece the money is never enough for ruthless Gordon Gekko, the millionaire trader, who shepherds an impressionable junior into a world of greed and moral duplicity.

Verdict: The 1987 film remains laser-sharp in its relevance, challenging a system where profits and wins are valued more than ethics.

 1. Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room

Plot: Arguably one of the best documentaries ever made, the film tells the story of Enron’s stratospheric rise to become one of the largest corporations in America using unethical trading practices and creative accounting, only to leave investors out in the cold when the scheme fell apart.

Verdict: Power, corruption and billions of lost dollars – the truth is often stranger (and more terrifying) than fiction.

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Dale Rolfe is AAT's Content Manager.

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