Unless you’ve got some kind of talent, smooth-talking like a Wall Street broker the likes of Gekko and Fox can be practically impossible. For most, that kind of savvy comes from a long history of making mistakes, and learning from them.
One way to learn is by watching, so here are some movies Business (and future) students can watch and apply real-life knowledge to in critique. Keep in mind that these instances are glamorised, but there’s no telling what really happens in the world of business!
1. The Social Network (2010) - biography, drama (Entrepreneurship)
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Topping many lists for business-must-watchs, The Social Network presents the risks and rewards of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Partnerships are a fragile thing, and even Mark Zuckerberg (played by the brilliant Jesse Eisenberg), billionaire boy wonder struggles at his independent peak. With Sean Parker (a smooth jabbering Justin Timberlake) selling ideas with convincing fluency, learn a thing or two about managing professional growth.
2. Band Baaja Baaraat (2012) - romantic comedy (Entrepreneurship)
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While the romantic element of this film overshadows its business focus, Band Baaja Baaraat (starring Ranveer Singh is his debut and Anushka Sharma in one of her best performances) tells the colourful tale of two people coming together to start their own wedding planning business, a huge industry in India. Pay attention to the little, fast-flying scenes of them at work, and how things can go on a rollercoaster ride despite them having some know-how of the industry.
3. Ex Machina (2015) - thriller, drama (Motivation / Ethics)
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Take a step back from the crowded corporate drama, and think deeply about the idea of innovation and information in Ex Machina. Business students already familiar with the concept of misinformation and risk management will have fun twisting and applying possible responses and contingencies to ensure product feasibility, or at least get out of the facility alive.
4. Giant (1956) - drama (Innovation Management)
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This drama starring Hollywood hunk Rock Hudson, goddess Elizabeth Taylor and gone-too-soon James Dean (the movie was his biggest posthumous release) touches on the hardships of old businesses replaced by bigger industries (Hudson’s cattle ranching dies out from Dean’s oil trade). Fame and fortune (and a lot of ego) last out for two generations; and Taylor’s ferocity in establishing human rights and gender equality brings the drama to all new heights.
5. Office Space (1999) - comedy (Management)
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Putting a darkly humorous touch to managing office politics brazenly, Office Space is the movie to watch for laughs at HR grey areas and cubicle shennanigans going way out of hand. Get aware about workers rights and group dynamics, but remember there are some things only a movie can pull off with no consequences. You will recognise hateful Bill Lumbergh from hilarious memes!
6. Moneyball (2011) - sports drama (Business Intelligence & Analytics/ Strategic Management)
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Unlike other sports dramas which focuses on the everlasting triumph of teamwork and never-give-up, Moneyball fictionalises the business aspect of the world of sports. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill’s characters band together to build a baseball team from literal scratch, utilising new computerised methods much to the chagrin of experienced recruiters. With their success comes quite a few very real challenges and difficulties, so take note of how they face it.
7. Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year (2009) - drama (Corporate Social Responsibility/ Corporate Communication/ Business Administration)
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Being a business isn’t just about the clients, no matter how important they are. Rocket Singh shows that treating your employees right will lead to better overall results both internally and externally; and it isn’t always about hitting that sales quota no matter what.
8. House of Strangers (1949) - noir (Management, Organisation & Leadership/ Corporate Communication)
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Dealing with business partners can be difficult, even more so if they are family members. House of Strangers is a brilliant film to sit down to and fantasise about being a somewhat legal banker with Italian mob tendencies. Decide for yourself where the line of business and personal relationship needs to be drawn, and gain a history lesson while you’re at it.
9. Norma Rae (1979) - drama (Supply Chain Management & Logistics/ Human Resource Management/ Corporate Social Responsibility)
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This timeless award-winning film captures the raw struggles of minimum-wage factory workers, and one woman’s frustration at all of it. Norma Rae is based on real history; and the establishment of a union for workers rights regardless of gender is portrayed very starkly.
10. Boiler Room (2000) - crime drama (Commerce/ Marketing)
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When you’re done screaming over pre-Fast and Furious Vin Diesel, gaze at the mind-blowing realness of telemarketing ruthlessness, and how unethical the process of sales can get. Important lessons of workplace credibility and get-rich-quick schemes are to be pondered about, and gauge how low one can go to go big.
Want to take up Business as a course and career? We’ve got just the right guide for you!