Have you ever wondered why organizations and businesses operating in the field of Finance & Banking have such great power in the global economy? This week, let’s join eJOY to “penetrate” into the world of the Wall Street tycoons and learn more economic and financial English vocabulary through a list of 15 cool movies on the topic of Finance & Banking. This article will be especially suitable for those majoring in Economics, Finance, or anyone interested in and passionate about this field! Let’s explore this wonderful movie list together with eJOY!


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“A To Z” Tips For Learning English with Movies


Learning English through movies – Reasons to choose

What is it with the hype of learning English through movies? Here is the answer: this method of learning is the full package! 

Expand vocabulary

In every movie, each line of dialogues is full of new words and useful expressions. In addition, vocabulary in movies is organized systematically in accordance with their topics. Therefore, many find it easier to memorize vocabulary when learning through movies. Moreover, acquiring new words in this way is proven to be more effective as we learn them in specific expressions and contexts.  

Enhance listening – speaking skills

Watching movies will help you practice listening to English at a standard speed equivalent to native people’s speed of speaking. At the same time, this method of studying allows you to approach different tones and accents of English such as American English, British English, Australian English, etc. By listening to and practicing the way movie characters combine their words, sentences, and body language, you can learn how to speak English more fluently and naturally.  

Develop logical English thinking

Many of us learners usually develop a habit of thinking in our first language, then trying to translate that into English, which will make our ideas sound unnatural. So how to get rid of that? A method you should try is to familiarize yourself with the English way of thinking through the world of movies. When you dive into the flow of thoughts and conversations of movie characters, you will find yourself getting used to logical English thinking gradually and naturally. 

Revive interest in learning English 

It is best to learn new things with an open and passionate heart. Learning English through movies is very likely to spark more interest in you rather than traditional ways of learning. As you are immersed in the exciting world of movies, exploring new cultures and lifestyles, you will find English less intimidating and more endearing. Then learning English will simply be doing something you like. 


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A step-by-step guide to learning English through movies effectively 

Below is a summary of the steps to learn English through movies effectively for Intermediate learners. To better understand this learning method, you should read our article “A To Z” Tips For Learning English with Movies” here.

Step 1 – Watch the whole movie in dual subtitles

For Intermediate learners, after choosing a suitable movie, you should first attempt to watch it with dual subtitles. This will make it easier for you to grasp the main contents of the movie as well as the meaning of new words. After watching and noting down new words, you can attempt to watch the movie again but this time with English subtitles to practice on your listening and speaking skills. 

Step 2 – Extract a small part of the movie to focus on 

After watching the whole movie with the help of subtitles, you should choose a few particular scenes (under three minutes) of it to practice further. There are some exercises that you can use such as: 

  • Watch the scene with English subtitles over and over again
  • Look up and save new words and expressions to your notebook 
  • Practice listening using dictation exercises 
  • Practice speaking using the shadowing method

Step 3 – Rewatch the movie and play games to revise vocabulary 

In this step, you should watch the whole movie with English subtitles one more time to check how many percents of new words have you memorized and how much of the movie you can understand. After that, don’t forget to play fun vocabulary games to brush up on the words you have learned from the movie on eJOY eXtension or eJOY app. 

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Top 15 must-see movies on Finance & Banking

The topic of Finance & Banking, especially in the context of Wall Street is no longer anything strange to cinema fans with a huge number of movies made on this topic. Among numerous names, titles, and genres, eJOY has selected 15 movies that not only vividly represent this topic but also befit the purpose of learning English.

They can all be found on Netflix or Amazon Prime. By downloading eJOY eXtension on Google Chrome, your learning experience on Netflix and Amazon will be more pleasant as you can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate easily, for example, repeat a line, access auto-pause feature, and more. You can find more details about how to use eJOY eXtension on Netflix here.

1. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

Jake Moore is a young man working at an investment firm owned by Gordon Gekko – his mentor. During work, Jake falls into a fierce battle with his opponent where the winner takes all. In that battle, Jake realized a new image of the well-respected Gordon – a ruthless financial expert full of dirty tips and tricks of an insider. Will Jake lose himself in the cycle of money, violence, and power and become a manipulative man like Gordon?

This 2h13 ’movie is suitable for English learners at the Intermediate level and above. The speaking speed of actors in the movie is average, with clear and spot-on pronunciations. The movie also offers diverse vocabularies in the fields of finance and banking, especially in the field of investment, insider trading, etc. 

2. The Bank (2001)

Jim Doyle is a mathematical genius working hard to find out a formula to calculate the time of stock market crashes. He was approached by Centabank CEO Simon O’Reilly, who wanted to collaborate on Jim’s groundbreaking research and gain profit from speculation based on such market insights. Inevitably, no matter how well hidden, the traces of corruption and endless greed are soon revealed, bringing about severe consequences with them.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

The movie was based on a script adapted from the famous memoir of Jordan Belfort, a low-value stockbroker from Long Island. Jordan became extremely famous when he published his memoirs after serving a 20-month sentence for refusing to cooperate with the police to investigate a fake securities scandal that nearly brought down Wall Street in the 90s, which involved banks and mafia gangs.

The Wolf of Wall Street featured dialogues and speeches with lively intonation as well as the confident manner of the actors. Surely you will learn a few ways to make your speech more persuasive and at the same time improve your speaking skills. You will also find in the movie interesting phrases such as “vote of confidence”, “name of the game”, etc. However, the film uses strong language as well as some sensitive scenes so you should be aware of that before watching.

4. Inside Job (2010)

The global financial crisis in the fall of 2008 left millions of people out of work and homes as well as pushed the United States into a deep cycle of recession. Narrated in the voice of Matt Damon, Inside Job is a documentary movie about that event, providing details of the investigation into factors that led to the collapse of the economy and identifies key financial and political individuals related.

5. Too Big To Fail (2011)

Too big to fail demonstrates the story of the 2008 financial crisis, focusing on the actions of US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke, President of the Federal Reserve in aim to prevent further economic problems and consequences during the period from August to October 2008. The movie gives the audience an interesting insight into the 2008 financial crisis from the perspective of insiders who acted to prevent a global economic crisis.

6. The Big Short (2015)

In 2008, Michael Burry, a Wall Street expert, realized that some subprime home loans in the United States were at risk of default. Burry then took advantage of this situation and bet on the real estate market by throwing more than $ 1 billion of his investors’ money into credit default swaps. This move of Burry attracted the attention of banker Jared Vennett, hedge fund expert Mark Baum and other greedy opportunists. Together, these men teamed up to make a fortune by making the most out of the impending economic collapse in the United States.

The Big Short imprints the audience with a wide range of vocabulary related to finance and banking, especially those related to the real estate market and credit system. Standard English – American accent with average speaking speed, clear pronunciation makes the movie a very suitable material for practicing English speaking and listening skills.

7. The China Hustle (2017)

The China Hustle is a documentary film depicting a systematic securities fraud that is continuing to occur in the United States, in which small Chinese companies (possibly linked to the Chinese Communist Party), had their values inflated by US investment banks and sold to U.S. investors. The story is told from the perspective of Dan David, vice president of investment firm GeoInvesting. After the early years of his career directing many investors to put money into Chinese companies with the promise of high profits, David began to realize there was something shady going on and decided to investigate to uncover the truth.

8. Dirty Money (2018)

This Netflix-produced series takes the audience to discover how HSBC laundered money for drug cartels, how a car racer engaged in an illegal money-lending activity involving millions of Americans, and how Volkswagen deceives consumers globally about how environmentally friendly their diesel engines are.

9. Equity (2016)

Naomi Bishop, an investment banker, struggled to rise to the top of Wall Street while being watched by Samantha Ryan, a prosecutor, who suspected Naomi was involved in corrupt practices. Equity is the first film ever telling the story of women working in the Wall Street, which is directed, written, produced and sponsored by women, a collaboration between women in entertainment and business, the real-life women of Wall Street, who chose to invest in this film because they wanted to see their story being told on the big screen.

10. Betting On Zero (2017)

In Betting on Zero, the giant of hedge funds – Bill Ackman is in a crusade to expose Herbalife, a global nutritional giant. Bill doubted that Herbalife was the largest multi-level business model in history, while Herbalife executives insisted that Ackman was the market manipulator trying to bust Herbalife out of business.

As a documentary, Betting On Zero has compelling and engaging storytelling. The narrative voice of the movie is very good and standard, so you can easily grasp the content if you have an English proficiency of Intermediate level or higher. The rich vocabulary on investing and the stock market is another highlight of this documentary that attracts English learners.

11. Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (2006)

This documentary explores the collapse of Enron Corporation, arguably the most shocking example of corruption in the modern business world. Enron is thought to be involved in several illegal schemes, including instigating the California energy crisis as a way to raise electricity prices and make money on the loss of Americans. In a super-competitive environment, Enron traders use all sorts of underground transactions possible to make money at all costs and keep their high paying jobs.

12. Saving Capitalism (2017)

Saving Capitalism is a documentary film launched in 2017, following former Labor Minister and Professor Robert Reich to talk about the current state of the US economic system, and present ideas about how to “save capitalism”. Robert Reich met Americans from all walks of life and noted the change in the country’s capitalism. The film tracks the development of capitalism in the United States, from its beginning as a system that helped the nation prosper to its current state as a system that values corporations more than the people.

13. Becoming Warren Buffett (2017)

Becoming Warren Buffett tells the story of legendary investor Warren Buffett who started out as an ambitious boy, obsessed with numbers from Nebraska, and eventually became one of the wealthy men and most respected in the world.

14. Margin Calls (2011)

Margin Call started at an investment company in the middle of a storm, with 80% of its employees being laid off. One of the victims of the laid-off is Eric, a senior risk analyst who is in the process of researching an important project. Like many of his peers, Eric did not see that the real estate market was built on a house of cards. Later, his subordinates tried to complete the analysis and find out the real reason behind the company’s financial collapse.

Margin Call will be quite a challenge for English learners. A large amount of economic vocabulary, along with the relatively fast speaking speed of the cast, requires the viewers to highly concentrate to keep up with the movie. In addition, it also uses many idiomatic expressions such as “spilled milk”, water under the bridge”, “give somebody some rope”, etc.

15. Something Ventured (2011)

Something Ventured is a 2011 documentary investigating the advent of venture capitalism in the US in the mid-20th century. Something Ventured tells the story of venture capitalists who worked with entrepreneurs. to start and build companies like Apple, Intel, Genentech, Cisco, Atari, Tandem, and other giants in the US economy.

The 15 films on the list above will surely satisfy your passion and interest in the topic of Finance & Banking as well as your interest in learning English. Hopefully, you can learn much useful knowledge from this article, especially in terms of economic vocabulary, English learning methods, and materials. Stay tuned for more interesting articles of eJOY’s  “Learning English through movies” series!

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