The world of real estate is filled with drama. Working in real estate requires a lot of client management, constant enthusiasm, and a knack for selling. This is a high-pressure job that can yeild great financial reward or, if things go haywire, a trip to the welfare office.
As a real estate agent, there’s so much that can go right and so much that can go wrong. That’s why the job is the perfect set up for a high stakes drama or, on occasion, a hilarious comedy. Buying or selling a house is one of the most important decisions one can make, so naturally it has been explored in cinema. It’s something to which anyone can identify with. Here are seven of the best real estate movies ever made.
1. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Reportedly, playwrite David Mamet often rehearses his plays with a metronome, setting a rhythm for the actors to read their dialogue. This creates a kind of poetry to every line. And every line of James Foley’s film adaptation of the Pulitzer prize-winning play is beautifully delivered by a star studded cast including Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and a heartbreaking performance from Jack Lemmon.
Real estate agents can be desperate and sad, and Lemmon’s desperate con man is pitch perfect. Anyone who has ever worked telemarketing can identify with him. The character of Gil on The Simpsons was entirely based upon Lemmon’s performance.
2. The Big Short (2015)
To best understand the real estate burst in 2008, The Big Short serves as a funny, entertaining and frightening living history. This is one of the best real estate movies that follows the few crooked real estate brokers who can see the tidal wave of recession about to hit, and do nothing to stop it but protect themselves. Cynical and bleak, the film was nominated for several Oscars and has a surprisingly great turn from Steve Carell as the one money man with a shred of a conscience. Too little, too late, however.
3. The Money Pit (1986)
A remake of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, The Money Pit marks the first collaboration between the blockbuster duo of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, who produced the film. Like many of the real estate movies on the list, it’s an endearing screwball comedy in which he buys a mansion on the market for the shocking amount of only $200,000. Thinking he’d only have to do some quick and easy renovation, the place immediately starts to fall apart. It’s amusing enough – perhaps not Hanks’ best – but well worth a watch.
4. Pacific Heights (1990)
Roger Ebert famously coined John Schlesinger’s film as “yuppie horror”. Mathew Modine and Melanie Griffith by a much sought after expensive home in San Francisco, only to be hit hard by the cost. To make ends meet, they rent out a room to the eccentric but charming Carter (Michael Keaton), who proceeds to make their life a living hell.
He locks himself in his room, begins tearing up the floor, and uses every loophole in the book to ensure they can’t evict him. Modine and Griffith are fine, but the real draw here is Keaton, who is genuinely terrifying. It’s certainly dated, but it’s still one hell of a creepy ride.
5. All Good Things (2010)
Before anyone learned the truth about Robert Durst via an audio mic gaff while they were shooting The Jinx, the same director made a fictional film about a Durst-like figure. Heir to a real estate fortune, David Marks (Ryan Gosling) is suspected of murdering his wife (Kirsten Dunst), who disappeared years ago. There’s no evidence connecting him to her disappearance, but through flashbacks we start to learn the truth.
It’s a clever, ripped from the headlines story, brilliantly acted by a newly famous Gosling. The Jinx is also worth watching, with the famous “What I do? Kill them all, of course” capping off a compelling miniseries. Bear in mind: FOX News pundit Judge Jeanine Pirro, despite mountains of evidence, could not successfully prosecute Durst. Think about that next time you hear her screaming and ranting on her show.
6. 99 Homes (2015)
If you’re not in the mood for a lecture on just what went wrong to cause the 2008 housing crisis that The Big Short lays out, stick to this thriller instead. No history lessons here, it’s just fraught with tension as Andrew Garfield is evicted from his childhood home by a malicious real estate broker (Michael Shannon) and forced to evict others. It’s a dark examination of the crash, propelled by emotion more than fact.
7. I Love You, Man (2009)
I Love You, Man is the ultimate bromance, made only better by casting the always charming Paul Rudd as a realtor who has no outlet to relax. Desperate to find a best man for his upcoming wedding, he meets Sydney, his polar opposite whose life revolves around picking up divorced women.
Surprisingly, the film offers some worthwhile information about the real estate industry, including the idea of making the listing as personal as possible to attract buyers. Another important lesson: have self-confidence. While Rudd is sweet and good-natured, his inability to sell Lou Farrigno’s house is mainly his lack of self-confidence when showing the home.