It’s award season and, for the first time since The Big Short in 2016, Hollywood has given us a best picture-nominated business film in The Post.
(Some folks consider The Post a journalism film, but first and foremost it’s a film about business decisions as I’ll explain below.)
Personally, I have no problem transforming Netflix and chill into Netflix and learn, so I’m totally down to watch great business films. Why not squeeze in a bit of professional development from the comfort of one’s couch?
So, here’s my list of great business films.
Don’t see one of your favorites? Maybe it joined Citizen Kane, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The Social Network on last year’s list of great business movies.
Or perhaps like Glengarry Glen Ross, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street, I just haven’t seen it yet. Don’t @ me, bro. I’ll see you at the movies!
The Post (2017)
Overview: This is the true story of Washington Post owner Kay Graham’s decision to risk the family business’s financial future by publishing the Pentagon Papers against the White House’s will. In the lead role, Meryl Streep beautifully captures the sleepless nights of a business owner struggling with a massive decision.
IMDB rating: 7.4 stars
Business lesson: Leadership is lonely – especially when facing a big decision. You probably won’t have all the information you need and, if you wait for more info, Jeff Bezos says you’re deciding too slowly.
The Aviator (2004)
Overview: Nominated for 11 academy awards including best picture, this biopic follows Howard Hughes’ rise to success in the aviation industry and eventual crash into extreme reclusion. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Hughes pushed away the women in his life but an inner circle of devoted employees stayed loyal to the end.
IMDB rating: 7.5 stars
Business lesson: Hire good people you can trust (and fire ones you can’t), reward them, and don’t let them go. They may end up watching the door while you break down.
Tommy Boy (1995)
Overview: A dimwit played by Chris Farley (whose brain is mostly “clogged with malted hops and bong resin”) is forced into sales mode to save his family’s auto part factory when his father unexpectedly passes away. Hilarity ensures, obvi, but so do powerful lessons about connecting with customers on a human level.
IMDB rating: 7.1 stars
Business lesson: Connect with your customers and understand what they need. They don’t care that your factory is shutting down. They care what you can do for them.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
Overview: In 1958, the board of directors for Hudsucker Industries promotes a dopey mailroom employee to president in an attempt to tank the company’s stock. The joke’s on them though as the new president (played by Tim Robbins) stumbles upon an amazing new product idea – the hula hoop. You know, for kids?!
IMDB rating: 7.3 stars
Business lesson: Don’t overlook less obvious sources of innovation. You never know who has the next great idea – from dopey mailroom employees to your own Pinterest followers.