5 of the Best Money Documentaries on Netflix

Close-up image of a dollar bill with Tribeca Film Festival 2015 emblem on it

Requiem for the American Dream | Tribeca Film Festival

With Netflix bulking up on its collection of documentaries, it may be hard to figure out which ones to watch. In addition to various documentaries on everything from health care to the drug trade, the streaming service has a small, but worthy set of titles centered on the global financial system and its tumultuous history. Here are five of the best money-themed documentaries currently available to watch on Netflix.

1. The True Cost 

This 2015 documentary film by director Andrew Morgan exposes the harsh reality of the clothing industry’s unsustainable business practices. Speaking with current and former employees, the documentary lifts the curtains on the systemic poor treatment of underpaid workers who make the clothes we wear. The True Cost has earned critical acclaim for spurring public debate and currently holds a 63% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes.

2. Requiem for the American Dream

In this 2015 documentary film, Noam Chomsky, a linguist, historian, social critic, and political activist, evaluates the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a select few Americans. In the documentary, which was filmed over four years, Chomsky traces a half-century of policies that were designed to favor the wealthy at the expense of the majority. He also looks back on his own life of activism and political participation.

3. Hank: 5 Years from the Brink

The 2013 documentary chronicles how former Goldman Sachs CEO and secretary of the treasury, Hank Paulson, persuaded banks, Congress, and presidential candidates to sign off on a nearly $1 trillion rescue package for the U.S. financial system during the economic crisis in 2008.

Directed by Academy Award nominee Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster), the film features both Paulson and his wife, Wendy, presenting a compelling portrait of what it’s like to balance leadership and a marriage under inconceivable pressure.

4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

The 2005 film, based on the best-selling 2003 book of the same name, examines the massive fraud perpetrated by Enron and traces how the culture of financial misconduct at the company was evident as far back as 1987.

The Smartest Guys in the Room explores the lengths to which the company went in order to appear incredibly profitable and how chairman Kenneth Lay, CEO Jeff Skilling, and other executives managed to keep their riches, while thousands of lower-level employees lost both their jobs and their retirement funds. The film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary and was nominated for Best Documentary, Features at the 2006 Academy Awards.

5. Inside Job

Matt Damon narrates this comprehensive look at the causes behind the 2008 global financial crisis. Featuring a mix of interviews with some of the biggest players during that time, as well as plenty of analysis, this film is the perfect documentary for people who aren’t financial experts themselves, but would like to learn more everything that led up to the event.

Winner of the Best Documentary, Features Oscar in 2011, Inside Job does a great job of making a complex issue more understandable.

Additional reporting by Nathanael Arnold and Evie Carrick.

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