April 13, 2024

CFO at the Movies 2023: 4 Great Films With a Finance Focus

With 2023 in the books, the CFO team continues its annual tradition of recollecting some of our favorite business-themed films and the movie scenes that make our cash flowing hearts beat a little bit faster. This year’s edition features old and new, and in each case, we think possessing a finance-oriented mind helps the viewer appreciate some of the movie’s moments. 

We hope your 2023 has been a good one, and here’s to hopefully many more great cinematic finance moments in 2024.

  1. It’s a Wonderful Life
  2. The Social Network
  3. The Devil Wears Prada
  4. Air

CFO at the Movies 2022


It’s a Wonderful Life

Release Year: 1946

Movie Summary

It's a Wonderful Life

Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Karolyn Grimes, “It’s a Wonderful Life”

Public domain


George Bailey, the owner of a struggling bank, faces financial ruin and contemplates suicide. His despair is interrupted by his guardian angel, Clarence, who shows George the positive impact he’s had on his small-knit community of Bedford Falls.

This revelation leads to a community effort to save his bank. The story highlights the value of personal connections over wealth and how fractional reserve banking works, all while taking place sometime in pre-World War II upstate New York during Christmas time.

My first encounter with the film: It was in 2004, when I was in the fourth grade. We watched the movie as a class the week before the holiday break and had to write a report on it.

Why is this a finance movie? The main character, George Bailey, owns a failed bank. The movie follows his journey in putting it back together. 

Best Finance-Related Scene: The bank run. Reminiscent of what many thought would happen earlier this year, this scene is both humorous and informative about the challenges of a bank run.

Movie stars I was excited to see: None recognized. All actors were known only by their character names before a second viewing.

Scene to Rewatch: The scene where George offers Mary Hatch the moon. Considered the funniest scene in the movie and a situation many can relate to.

Best Quote: “You look a little older without your clothes on.” — George Bailey

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

– Adam Zaki


The Social Network

Release Year: 2010

Movie Summary

Plenty has been said about this movie not accurately depicting characters and events, so I won’t add to that here. This review is about what happens in the movie, not what happened in real life.

The story is fairly well known: Harvard students start a social website that becomes wildly popular, and Mark Zuckerberg, who invented and coded the site, becomes a campus celebrity. He appoints his friend Eduardo Saverin, a quant, to run the business side of the operation. “You’re the CFO,” Mark tells him.

The Social Network

The Social Network film poster

By Daniel Clark Creative, Fair Use


Zuckerberg, meanwhile, meets Napster founder Sean Parker and falls under his sway, moving the company to Silicon Valley. Saverin doesn’t come along, insisting that as CFO it’s his responsibility to generate revenue, which he plans to get from advertisers in New York. Zuckerberg and Parker, who has become the company president, oppose him, saying they don’t know yet what the business is supposed to be.

As Facebook expands, opens up to the public, and zooms toward a million users, Zuckerberg and Parker conspire to dilute Saverin’s shares in the company by issuing millions of new shares, none of them to Saverin. Saverin ultimately sues.

Another lawsuit, alleging intellectual property theft, is brought against Zuckerberg by the Winklevoss twins, who had earlier asked Zuckerberg to help them develop their own social networking site for Harvard students.

The movie ends with Zuckerberg ordered to pay $65 million to the twins and reaching an undisclosed settlement with Saverin, while noting that Zuckerberg nonetheless became history’s youngest billionaire. 

Thematically “The Social Network” is about growing a novel idea into a big business, mixed with healthy doses of greed, betrayal, and loneliness.

My first encounter with the film:  I saw the movie in a theater shortly after its release in 2010. Watching it for this review was my second viewing.

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