insight magazine

Warming Up Your Winter Watchlist

Our columnists share their favorite and must-see movies (with an accounting twist). By NANCY CLARKE | Winter 2019


You can’t feel your face, your toes, or your fingers, and you're fairly certain that your ears now resemble two frozen Jimmy Dean sausage patties. Welcome to winter in Chicago! With the frigid temperatures setting in, now’s the time to warm up with a good old-fashioned movie night.

Here are some must-see accounting-themed favorites, according to our Insight columnists.

Mark Gilbert: “The Shawshank Redemption”
It’s a movie that portrays accounting skills in a very favorable light. Tim Robbins as Andy Dufresne is nicely portrayed as the unfortunate victim of “the system” as he is unfairly jailed. He uses his accounting skills to gain the trust and respect of the prison warden, which ultimately affords him the opportunity to enrich himself. The morality of Andy’s actions is somewhat questionable, but it’s all shown to be a part of the greater good, which makes this a very enjoyable movie.

Marty Green: “The Accountant”
In one instance, you have an accountant with an everyday practice. By all appearances, he’s very smart if not brilliant. Then, the mysterious side starts coming out with the accountant keeping mass weapons and large amounts of money squirreled away in a hidden trailer. The plot deepens when there’s an attempt to murder him and others after he is retained by a business to resolve its accounting issues. Without spoiling anything, I think the ending is particularly good as the movie closes to the theme song of Sean Rowe’s “To Leave Something Behind.”

Tim Jipping: “The Accountant”
It’s like watching a documentary of my own life.

Art Kuesel: “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Despite the movie being based on the true story of Jordan Belfort’s (played by Leonard DiCaprio) rise as a wealthy stockbroker living a life of crime and corruption, I have to respect that he was an incredible salesperson. While he is unscrupulous and uses his talents for illegal activities, I still respect his ability. Plus, the good guys get him in the end.

Jon Lokhorst: “The Untouchables”
Starring Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness and Robert DeNiro as Al Capone, “The Untouchables” is based largely in Chicago and captures the important role accountants played in getting Capone convicted of tax evasion. It also earned Sean Connery, one of my alltime favorite actors, an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Elizabeth Pittelkow Kittner: “All the Queen’s Horses”
Produced and directed by Illinois CPA Society member, Kelly Richmond Pope, “All the Queen’s Horses” tells the story of one of the biggest municipal frauds in history that hit Dixon, Ill. The movie highlights the importance of ethics in the accounting profession and the need for effective accounting controls.

Todd Shapiro: “Dave”
In the 1993 political comedy, Dave (Kevin Kline) ends up filling in for the president because he looks like him. Well, Dave takes his role seriously and wants to positively impact America. At one point, he visits a homeless shelter. He’s told he can save the shelter if he can cut $650 million from the federal budget. Dave enlists his accountant friend, Murray Blum (Charles Grodin), to help him rewrite the budget to do just that. While the movie is not specifically about accounting and finance professionals, it portrays an accountant in a positive role, using logic to solve complex problems and making a positive impact on society.

Keith Staats: “The Producers”
The original 1967 film directed by Mel Brooks starred Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. Wilder plays a young accountant (Leo) who shows up to audit the books of Mostel (Max), a producer of Broadway flops. Leo discovers that shares can be oversold in a play that flops and nobody will audit the books because it didn’t make any money. So, they decide to come up with a terrible play that will close the first night, they will oversell shares in the play, and then they will take off to Rio with the money. I won’t tell you how the plan turns out, but I guess you could say it is a cautionary tale about what can happen to an auditor if they become too involved in a client’s business.

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