Greedy Gusto: Five Films To Watch This Winter

Winter is coming faster than anticipated this year. Meteorologists predict a polar vortex descent as early as next week, forcing us all inside for hibernation. While you’re preparing for colder temperatures, why not settle in for a cozy movie about what else: greed! Snow and ice can lead us down the path of excessive comfort food, clothes and online shopping, leaving your budget to fend for itself by springtime. Instead, catch a flick with a meaningful financial message. You’ll be counting your blessings in no time.


1. Arbitrage. Suppose you’re a multimillionaire with a wonderful family and a thriving business. What else could you need? More money, of course. On the eve of his birthday, Robert Miller’s (Richard Gere) personal failings collide with the decline of his offshore (and illegal) business ventures. The result is a murder investigation and a $400 million deficit that threatens his livelihood and his freedom.

The lesson: Stop chasing the shadow of “more.” Appreciate what you have, and, you know, don’t cheat on your spouse.


2. A Perfect Murder. Steven Taylor (Michael Douglas) has everything a man could ask for: a stylish New York City penthouse, an enviable career and the perfect marriage. That is, of course, until he learns of his wife’s affair. In a calculating move, Steven orchestrates his wife’s murder, hoping for revenge and access to her sizable family trust.

The lesson: Cliché but true: money can’t buy happiness. Examine your personal needs in addition to your financial goals.


3. The Rainmaker. Rudy Baylor (Matt Damon) is a young Memphis lawyer trying his first case—a high-profile suit against a national insurance company. Baylor discovers the company’s systematic denial of legitimate claims in order to secure greater profits, a strategy that costs many customers their lives. He also discovers the darker side of practicing law and the moral sacrifices he’ll have to make in order to achieve success.

The lesson: Examine your own moral limits in the workforce. Surrendering to greed could lead to costly consequences.


4. Catch Me if You Can. As an adaptation of Frank Abagnale Jr.’s real-life crimes, this movie has it all: heartbreak, high-speed chases, fraud, and of course, greed. Abagnale’s (Leonardo Dicaprio) life of petty crime begins in high school when he impersonates a substitute teacher to embarrass a fellow student. Burdened with family drama and incited by easy money, Abagnale leaves home and begins a life bank fraud, forgery and assumed identities. What follows is an FBI chase that entangles him with Agent Hanratty (Tom Hanks) and threatens to expose Abagnale for his true self.

The lesson: Excelling in a particular skill doesn’t make it wise. Use your strengths for good and resist the urge to break laws simply because you can. As Mr. Abagnale learned, freedom is best established with honesty.


5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Who doesn’t love this holiday classic? Between musical numbers, the Grinch plots the demise of Christmas in Whoville, jealous of the fun and excitement the villagers enjoy each year.

The lesson: Envy is not a financial tool. Remember the “Keeping Up with the Joneses” story and stop comparing your life to others.