Beyond entertainment, these films offer valuable lessons, showcasing resilience, innovation, and the unwavering human spirit that drives success.
Regardless of where you currently stand on the entrepreneurial path, you’re sure to find some much-needed inspiration by watching the movies featured in this list.
1. From Grit to Glory: Movies Highlighting Overcoming Challenges
- The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) : The Pursuit of Happyness is a true story based on the life of entrepreneur Chris Gardner’s nearly one-year struggle of being homeless with his son while going through a gruelling 6-month unpaid internship as a stockbroker.
Why Watch it? A heartwarming portrayal of a single father overcoming homelessness and achieving success, emphasizing perseverance and resilience. Circumstances that are not much different from what early-stage entrepreneurs face.
- Money Ball (2011) : Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, revolutionizes baseball by embracing statistics and defying conventional wisdom to build a winning team on a shoestring budget. Shows how the underdog Oakland A’s used data-driven strategies to compete against wealthy teams, inspiring innovative approaches to business challenges.
Why watch it? This film teaches us the value of thinking outside the box, embracing data-driven insights, and challenging the status quo to achieve success.
- Air (2023) : AIR reveals the unbelievable game-changing partnership between a then-rookie Michael Jordan and Nike’s fledgling basketball division which revolutionized the world of sports and contemporary culture with the Air Jordan brand.
Why watch it? This moving story follows the career-defining gamble of an unconventional team with everything on the line, the uncompromising vision of a mother who knows the worth of her son’s immense talent, and the basketball phenom who would become the greatest of all time.
- Hidden Figure (2016) : Hidden figures honors 3 black woman who helped NASA soar. It tells an uplifting and genuinely heartwarming true life story in an entertaining fashion. The film’s portrayal of overcoming adversity, the importance of collaboration, and the power of believing in yourself offer valuable lessons that resonate deeply with aspiring business owners.
Why watch it? Hidden Figures is not just a captivating historical drama; it’s a powerful message for those facing challenges on their entrepreneurial journeys.Whether you’re just starting out or facing roadblocks, “Hidden Figures” serves as a reminder that with perseverance, resourcefulness, and a supportive network, even the seemingly impossible can be achieved.
- The Social Network (2010) : The Social Network tells the story of how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook while studying at Harvard and how he was later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and his best friend who was ousted from the company.
Why watch it? This movie explores the turbulent rise of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s ambition, offering insights into building tech empires and facing ethical dilemmas.
- Startup.com (2021) : Startup.com is a business documentary film that follows the story of GovWorks, a promising startup that failed spectacularly because of mismanagement and internal power struggles.A documentary chronicling the rise and fall of a dot-com company, offering lessons in startup culture, navigating uncertainties, and dealing with failure.
Why watch it? Startup.com is the perfect movie if you want to learn more about the rise and fall of internet companies during the dotcom bubble. A documentary chronicling the rise and fall of a dot-com company, offering lessons in startup culture, navigating uncertainties, and dealing with failure.
2. Innovation Incubators: Showcasing Ideas and Ingenuity
- Steve Jobs (2015) : Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin (who also wrote The Social Network), Steve Jobs is a different sort of a biopic. It contains just 3 sequences, all depicting a pivotal point in Jobs’ life. The movie includes brilliant performances by Fassbender and Kate Winslet. While it may not offer a complete picture of the man, it certainly captures the essence of his relentless drive, his passion for innovation, and the profound impact he had on the world of technology.
Why Watch it? “Steve Jobs” offers a captivating and thought-provoking experience. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in the man, the company he built, and the lessons that can be gleaned from their complex and fascinating story.
- The wolf of Wall Street (2013) : The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort. He was driven by greed, having little to no empathy towards the people he was duping, and lived a life of extreme debauchery which eventually led to his downfall
Why watch it? Jordan Belfort is the perfect example of what an entrepreneur shouldn’t be. While a cautionary tale of excess and corruption, it offers insights into high-pressure sales environments and the dark side of the financial world.
- The Founder (2015) : The Founder is a biopic of the American fast-food tycoon Ray Kroc. Starring Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, the movie tells the story of his creation of McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain, which became the biggest restaurant business in the world.
Why watch it? The Founder is not just a historical drama; it’s a relevant and thought-provoking film with much to offer aspiring entrepreneurs. Whether you agree with Kroc’s methods or not, his story provides valuable lessons and raises important questions that deserve consideration.
- The Intern (2015) :The movie offers a charming and heartwarming tale of unlikely friendship and intergenerational wisdom. Robert De Niro shines as Ben Whittaker, a retiree seeking purpose through a senior internship at Jules Ostin’s (Anne Hathaway) fast-growing online fashion startup, About the Fit. While initially hesitant, Jules eventually embraces Ben’s valuable experience and work ethic, leading to both personal and professional growth for both characters.th characters.
Why Watch it? The Intern offers a charming and heartwarming narrative with valuable lessons for both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs alike. It’s a testament to the power of intergenerational connection, learning, and finding purpose in unexpected places.
- Chef (2014) : Jon Favreau’s 2014 dramedy, “Chef,” is a heartwarming tale of a passionate chef who, after a public meltdown, embarks on a food truck journey of self-discovery and culinary reinvention. The film is infused with humor, heart, and of course, mouthwatering food that will leave you craving a taste.
Why Watch it? “The Chef” is not just a culinary delight; it’s a reminder to embrace passion, adapt to challenges, and find joy in the journey of pursuing your dreams, whether in the kitchen or in the world of business.
3. Building the Dream Team: Leadership and Teamwork
- Ford v Ferrari (2019) : Ford vs Ferrari, directed by James Mangold, takes us on a thrilling journey into the heated rivalry between two iconic automotive giants in the 1960s. Matt Damon delivers a captivating performance as Carroll Shelby, a visionary car designer, while Christian Bale embodies the stoic determination of Enzo Ferrari. The film beautifully balances the adrenaline-fueled racing sequences with the emotional struggles and personal journeys of its characters.
Why Watch it? Ford vs Ferrari is more than just a racing movie; it’s a story about passion, ambition, and the pursuit of dreams. The film offers valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and anyone striving to make their mark on the world.
- Ocean’s Eleven (2001) : Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s Eleven” is a modern classic, a slick and stylish heist film that combines star power, sharp dialogue, and an elaborate, yet thrilling plan. George Clooney leads an all-star cast as Danny Ocean, a charming ex-con who assembles a team of specialists to pull off the seemingly impossible: robbing three Las Vegas casinos owned by ruthless Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).
Why Watch it? “Ocean’s Eleven” is not just a heist film; it’s a story about teamwork, planning, and achieving the seemingly impossible. While its primary focus is entertainment, it offers valuable lessons that can be applied by entrepreneurs in their own endeavors.
- Erin Brockovich (2000) : “Erin Brockovich,” directed by Steven Soderbergh, is a captivating legal drama based on the true story of a single mother who takes on a powerful corporation polluting a small town’s water supply. Julia Roberts delivers a tour-de-force performance as Brockovich, showcasing her resilience, resourcefulness, and unwavering determination in the face of overwhelming odds.
Why Watch it? “Erin Brockovich” is more than just a legal drama; it’s a story about overcoming obstacles, fighting for justice, and making a difference. The film offers valuable lessons and inspiration for entrepreneurs who dare to challenge the status quo and pursue their dreams with courage and determination.
- The Big Short (2015) : Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” is a darkly comedic and thought-provoking exploration of the 2008 financial crisis, told through the eyes of several individuals who predicted it and profited from it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt deliver stellar performances as these unorthodox investors, navigating a complex and corrupt financial system on the verge of collapse.
Why Watch it? “The Big Short” is not just a financial drama; it’s a cautionary tale and a call to action. It encourages viewers to remain informed, ask questions, and hold individuals and institutions accountable for their actions. The film offers valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and anyone navigating a complex and ever-changing world.
- The Aviator (2004) : Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator” is a visually stunning and sprawling biopic chronicling the rise and fall of aviation pioneer Howard Hughes, played with captivating intensity by Leonardo DiCaprio. The film takes viewers on a whirlwind journey through Hughes’ turbulent life, showcasing his incredible achievements in aviation and film, alongside his crippling battles with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Why Watch it? “The Aviator” goes beyond entertainment, offering valuable lessons about ambition, personal struggles, and the complexities of achieving success. It’s a must-watch for anyone interested in the life of Howard Hughes, early aviation history, or the challenges and rewards of pursuing ambitious dreams.
- The Godfather (1972): Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film, “The Godfather,” is not just a gangster movie; it’s a cinematic masterpiece that transcends genre and continues to resonate with audiences decades after its release. Marlon Brando delivers an iconic performance as Don Vito Corleone, the aging patriarch of a powerful Mafia family, navigating a world of loyalty, betrayal, and violence.
Why Watch it? “The Godfather” is not just a gangster film; it’s a cautionary tale, a study of power, and a compelling human drama. It offers valuable lessons that transcend genre and remain relevant in the world of business and beyond.. The film delves into complex themes of loyalty, family, morality, and the corrupting influence of power. It asks viewers to question their own understanding of right and wrong in a world where the lines are often blurred.
4. Beyond the Bottom Line: The Human Side of Entrepreneurship
- Joy (2015) : ” David O. Russell’s 2015 biographical dramedy “Joy” tells the story of Joy Mangano, a single mother who overcame numerous obstacles to invent and market the Miracle Mop, a household cleaning product that became a commercial success. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a captivating performance as the determined and resourceful Joy, leading viewers through a whirlwind of family drama, business challenges, and personal triumphs.
Why watch it? “Joy” offers a compelling and entertaining story with valuable lessons for anyone venturing into the world of entrepreneurship. It’s a reminder that success is rarely a straight line, and the journey towards achieving your dreams is often filled with unexpected twists and turns.
- Jerry Maguire (1996) : Tom Cruise shines as Jerry Maguire, a cocky sports agent who undergoes a personal and professional transformation in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 classic, “Jerry Maguire.” The film delves into the cutthroat world of sports management, exploring themes of loyalty, integrity, and finding meaning beyond money and success.
Why Watch it? “Jerry Maguire” is not just a feel-good movie; it’s a message about staying true to oneself, prioritizing good people over profits, and finding meaning beyond mere success. These lessons resonate with entrepreneurs and anyone navigating the often-challenging world of business.
- The Inventor : Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019) : Alex Gibney’s documentary, “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,” delves into the rise and fall of Theranos, a blood-testing company built on a revolutionary yet ultimately fraudulent technology. The film, centered around charismatic founder Elizabeth Holmes, explores themes of ambition, deception, and the dark side of Silicon Valley culture.
Why watch it? “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” is more than just a cautionary tale about a failed company; it’s a relevant and thought-provoking film that offers valuable lessons for entrepreneurs and anyone navigating the complexities of innovation and its impact on our world.
5. Rising Against All Odds: Stories of Female Entrepreneurs
- Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story (2011) : “Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story” (2011) offers a fictionalized yet heartwarming portrayal of J.K. Rowling’s journey from a struggling single mother to the literary phenomenon behind the Harry Potter series. Poppy Montgomery delivers a charming performance as Rowling, capturing her determination, resilience, and the magical spark that ignited the world of Hogwarts Silicon Valley culture.
Why watch it? It offers a glimpse into the creative spark that ignited a literary phenomenon and serves as a reminder that even the most extraordinary journeys begin with a single step and a belief in the magic of words.
- Selfmade (2020) : “Self Made,” also known as “Madam C.J. Walker,” is a 2020 Netflix miniseries that chronicles the incredible journey of Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black woman to become a millionaire in America. Octavia Spencer delivers a tour-de-force performance as Walker, portraying her fierce determination, unwavering ambition, and relentless pursuit of success.
Why watch it? “Self Made” is more than just a historical drama; it’s a celebration of achievement, a call to action for breaking down barriers, and a reminder that even the most extraordinary journeys begin with a single step and unwavering determination.
- The Exchange(2019) : “The Exchange,” released in 2019, explores the captivating true story of Erin Greenwell, a single mother with no financial background who defied the odds to build a billion-dollar oil trading empire. The film showcases her relentless spirit, strategic cunning, and unwavering drive to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Why watch it? “The Exchange” is more than just a film; it’s a testament to the power of grit, vision, and unwavering belief in oneself. While it might not offer a perfect representation of entrepreneurship, it leaves viewers inspired and equipped with valuable lessons to embark on their own journeys towards success.
6. From Grit to Greatness: More Inspiring Films About Women Entrepreneurs:
- Thelma and Louise (1991) : While not strictly about entrepreneurship, this iconic road movie depicts two women defying societal expectations and taking control of their destinies.
- Working Girl (1988) : Melanie Griffith shines as Tess McGill, a secretary who climbs the corporate ladder using wit and determination.
- The Joy Luck Club (1993) : An intergenerational story about four Chinese-American families, highlighting the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of the women characters.
- The Iron Lady (2011) : Meryl Streep portrays Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s first female Prime Minister, showcasing her political rise and challenges faced as a woman in power.
- Coco Before Chanel (2009) : Audrey Tautou brings to life the iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel, exploring her early struggles and rise to fame.
- Hidden Figures (2016) : The untold story of three brilliant African-American women mathematicians who played crucial roles in NASA’s early space program.
- Hustlers (2019) : Constance Wu leads a group of strippers who start their own con operation against their wealthy clients, highlighting themes of female empowerment and resourcefulness.
- The Assistant (2019) : A young woman working as an assistant to a film producer becomes increasingly aware of his predatory behavior, sparking her own journey of self-discovery and action.
- Lady Business (2021) : A group of women in Mumbai start their own cleaning business, challenging social norms and empowering themselves through entrepreneurship.
- Boss Lady (2014) : Chronicles the stories of five successful female entrepreneurs, offering insights into their challenges and triumphs.
- Girlboss (2016) : The story of Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, showcasing the rise and fall of her fashion empire and the lessons learned along the way.
- American Dreams in China (2011) : Follows four American women navigating the challenges and opportunities of starting businesses in China.
Queen Sono (2020) : A South African action film with a strong female lead who is a skilled spy and entrepreneur.
Expand your entrepreneurial horizons with these thought-provoking movies, a mental break that will benefit your business in the long run.