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What are the best movies about accounting? We’re handing out “Wipflis”

Jan 24, 2020

With the Academy Awards right around the corner, we thought we would put an accounting spin on things and release our own awards for accounting movies: “The Wipflis”! We will give out six “Wipflis” in the categories below, voted on by over 300 Wipfli accountants. Enjoy.

Best accounting movie — Documentary/Biopic

 All the Queen’s Horses (2016) — How could a comptroller in a town of 10,000 people manage to steal over $50 million without anyone knowing? Ask the horses! An eye-opening tale in the small community of Dixon, Illinois.

 The Informant! (2009) — Matt Damon is brilliant in this film because, in the end, you still don’t know if he is brilliant or stupid! Based on the fraud at Archer Daniels Midland.

 The Wizard of Lies (2017) — This is the Bernie Madoff Story, an amazing tale of deceit. How can you go wrong with Robert De Niro as the star?

 Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) — The story that completely shook up the accounting world and took down one of the largest accounting firms in the world.

 And the Wipfli goes to …

All the Queen’s Horses

Most stereotypical movie accountant

 Louis Tully (played by Rick Moranis), Ghostbusters (1984) — He has a party and only invites clients so he can write it off. “This is real smoked salmon from Nova Scotia. $24.95 a pound. It only cost me $14.12 after tax, though. I'm giving this party as a promotional expense, that's why I invited clients instead of friends.”

 Loretta Castorini (played by Cher), Moonstruck (1987) — Working as a bookkeeper for various small businesses in Manhattan, Loretta’s life follows a strict schedule: work, home, work, home. (Of course, that cycle is broken, or it wouldn’t be much of a movie!)

Henry Sherman (played by Danny Glover), The Royal Tennanbaums (2001) — Danny Glover plays the dependable, bow-tied accountant who provides some sense of stability and normalcy in the whirlwind that is the Tennenbaum family. Henry is the perfect father figure and a poster child for accounting, having published his own book on personal finance.

Harold Crick (played by Will Ferrell), Stranger Than Fiction (2006) — Definitely not the IRS auditor you want assigned to your case. He counts everything from the number of strokes when he brushes his teeth, down to the number of steps he takes from his apartment to the bus stop.

And the Wipfli goes to … 

Louis Tully

Best accounting movie — Drama

Schindler’s List (1993) — Just like any heroic character, Oskar Schindler needed a good accountant (Itzhak Stern) to keep him straight.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994) — The term “Shawshanked” that defines the act of flipping through TV channels one Saturday afternoon and landing on the Shawshank Redemption, only to find yourself completely unable to change the channel. Have you ever actually seen the beginning?

The Untouchables (1987) — A dramatic look into the fall of mobster Al Capone. After the police, FBI and CIA were all unable to bring him down, they brought in the true heroes — the accountants — who were the ones to bring him down for tax evasion. An all-star cast of Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro and Sean Connery make this an entertaining watch!

And the Wipfli goes to … 

The Shawshank Redemption

Movie accountant we most want to be like

Chris Wolff (played by Ben Affleck), The Accountant (2016) — Who says accountants can’t be sexy, dangerous and exciting? Affleck’s character certainly checked all three of those boxes in this thriller. He’s an accountant you want on your side for many reasons.

Albert Brennaman (played by Kevin James), Hitch (2005) — We only wish we had his dance moves. From “I start the fire, I make the pizza” to “The Q-Tip.” Definitely the life of the party!

Calvin Joyner (played by Kevin Hart), Central Intelligence (2016) — The “Golden Jet”! Not sure what we are more in awe of, the fact that he can do a backflip, or the fact that he got to co-star alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Andy Dufresne (played by Tim Robbins), The Shawshank Redemption (1994) — I mean, a guy in prison helping the prison get tax refunds that are put towards building a library? And the method of escaping that prison was just genius!

And the Wipfli goes to … 

Chris Wolff

Best accounting movie — Comedy

The Other Guys (2010) — Pairing Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg really has no downside.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) — Joe Pesci’s money laundering accountant and federal witness is one of cinema’s most irritatingly watchable characters and a classic fall guy to the cop duo of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Office Space (1999) — We all have wanted to take that copier out back and smash it at one time or another, right? This movie captures many nuances of office schematics that we see every day in accounting offices: “Yeah, I’m going to have to have you come in on Saturday ….”

Hitch (2005) — Many accountants over time would have wanted Will Smith’s advice to try to woo that one girl. And sometimes we need to hear someone say, “Don’t ever do that again” when we think we can dance ....

And the Wipfli goes to …

Office Space

Honorable mention accounting movies

Midnight Run (1995) — After embezzling $15 million from a mob boss, Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas (played by Charles Grodin) is on the run while hitman Jack Walsch (played by Robert De Niro) chases him.

The Producers (1968) — A Mel Brooks film starring Gene Wilder, a numbers whiz who helps a Broadway producer with a shady business plan.

Wall Street (1987)/The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) — Whether you choose to watch the classic Wall Street or the more modern The Wolf of Wall Street, both films represent all that was greedy and excessive about Wall Street in the 1980s. Both films provide a warning against greed and act as a reminder to stay ethical in financial dealings.

And the Wipfli goes to …

The Wolf of Wall Street

What’s on your watchlist?

How many of these winners and nominees have you seen? Let us know what you’re putting on your watchlist!


Steven A. Jordan, CPA
Senior Manager
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