Dirty Money: 5 Movies About Greed

Friday, November 4 by Shawn Lealos

When discussing the best five movies about greed, it's important to understand that wanting something is not greed. Instead it's the act of wanting everything, and not caring about the pain it causes others, that constitutes the deepest forms of greed. These movies about greed take characters and show the level of greed they will rise to in order to ensure they have everything.

“Wall Street”

You can’t even start a list of movies about greed without including the movie, which famously used the tagline “greed is good.” Michael Douglas defined the yuppie era 80s in “Wall Street” as financial tycoon Gordon Gekko. Douglas won an Oscar in a role that, bizarrely, caused many people to want to work on Wall Street to get rich using the greed motto. This is a strange attitude since both characters in the movie end up in jail for their greed in playing the market.

“American Psycho”

While Gordon Gekko used greed to try to get as powerful as possible on the stock market, "American Psycho" main character Patrick Bateman uses greed as a sin tempting him to kill. Christian Bale delivered his best performance at the time as a Wall Street businessman who wanted to be the best in every aspect of his life. However, when he found someone who had something better than him, he fixed that by killing his competition. This movie about greed is a masterpiece, and Bale’s performance even made some around Hollywood believe he might be the perfect person to one day play millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne.

“Fargo”

Joel and Ethan Coen directed this dark comedy movie about greed, set in and around the town of Fargo, North Dakota. William Macey plays a man who wants to move ahead in life and decides that the quickest and easiest way to do it is to force his uptight father-in-law to give him money. His level of greed goes so far that he hires two criminals to kidnap his own wife so they can split the bounty that his father-in-law is sure to pay. The movie was a huge hit for the Coen’s, nabbing seven Oscar nominations. It also holds a place in urban legend as a woman is said to have frozen to death looking for the money from the movie since the opening titles falsely stated the film was based on a true story.

“There Will Be Blood”

Whe Paul Thomas Anderson made “There Will be Blood,” he stated that it was his horror movie. This movie about greed is not set up like a typical horror film. Instead, it follows an oil man who gets rich and then uses his money to continue building an empire. The character of Daniel Plainview is as close to a monster as you can get, destroying lives to make more money and stepping on anyone who gets in his way, including his adopted son. He is a human vampire and sucks the blood out of anyone he comes in contact with, simply to get more money.

“No Country for Old Men”

In “Fargo,” a man went to dastardly lengths to get money. But in the Coen brothers “No Country for Old Men,” a man simply finds money and then does everything wrong after that, putting his life and everyone he knows in danger to hold onto the money. This is a movie about greed, although the man is not a monster in his greed, just a foolish man who puts money ahead of his own life. There is also a powerful mobster who sends a killer out to get his money back, the other side of the greed coin. By the end, greed destroys everyone’s lives when death comes to town.