Best Rags to Riches Movies, Ranked


We live in times when capitalism shapes our views of the world and the way we operate on a daily basis. Some are struggling to feed their families and afford basic necessities, while others enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer. Now, more than ever, we can pinpoint class inequality everywhere we look. Everyone’s hungry for money, to earn more, and to become someone unreachable.

However, for those who aren’t as fortunate as others, movies sometimes serve as a sanctuary and a clear image of what could have been if society (and life) worked out differently. All in all, it’s nice to watch people climb from the bottom to the top given how it makes us feel that it’s all possible. Here are the best rags to riches movies.



7 The Great Gatsby (2013)


Released back in 2013, The Great Gatsby is a historical romantic drama based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel of the same. Directed by Baz Luhrmann the movie remains his highest-grossing-spectacle to this day with $353 million earned worldwide. What you may have not known is that Jay-Z himself served as an executive producer of the movie. As for the storyline, the plot follows Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, the millionaire, and his neighbor Nick Carraway (played by Tobey Maguire), who makes his way into Gatsby’s Roaring Twenties chaos. The story is retold from Nick’s point of view in retrospect, and it’s more than certain that it wasn’t just a grand admiration he held for the man. Many interpret it as a queer-coded story of a man who, because of his feelings, followed another man from the quietness of his home to the craze of his fancy life.


6 House of Gucci (2021)


The highly anticipated House of Gucci only released last year, but it’s already left a mark on the film industry. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver in the lead roles, the movie is based on a 2001 book called The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed. Scott wanted to tell the life-story of the Gucci dynasty for quite some time, and when it finally happened, it did not disappoint. The plot focuses on Patrizia Reggiani (Gaga) as she marries into the Gucci family from a humble background. As time goes by, her hunger for control and power leads to fights with her husband Maurizio Gucci (Driver), who dreams of the same things.


5 The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006)


Starring both Will and Jaden Smith, The Pursuit Of Happyness is a 2006 biographical drama directed by Gabriele Muccino. The emotional weight of the story garnered positive reviews and critical acclaim. Based on a real story, the plot follows Chris Gardner (Will Smith), a homeless salesman, who takes custody of his son (Jaden Smith) and does his best to provide for the both of them while having no shelter. Starting literally from the bottom and having nothing, Gardner manages to own a multimillion-dollar brokerage firm due to nothing else but his hard work and persistence.

4 The Wolf Of Wall Street (2013)


Considered one of the greatest movies of 2010s, The Wolf Of Wall Street is yet another biographical movie, this time black comedy, directed by Martin Scorsese, starring DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in the lead roles. Based on a memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort, it follows the life of stockbroker Belfort as well both his rise and downfall. Belfort was engaged in corruption and fraud on Wall Street and the story is told from his point of view. The movie raised concerns for the constant use of profanity, implicit sexual content, depictions of use of hard drugs, and many others. It even holds a Guinness World Record for the most swearing in a movie. What a movie to portray yet another unhinged 80s businessman.

3 Scarface (1983)


There are many ways to go from rags to riches, right? Rather than looking down on criminals, Scarface decides to tell a story of a last resort the refugees see when coming to America and wishing for the American dream. Starring Al Pacino in the lead role, the plot tells a story of a Cuban refugee who arrives penniless to Miami and turns to crime to earn a living, becoming one of the most powerful drug lords. Scarface is considered one of the greatest gangster movies and has become a cult classic. It showcases the unrealistic chase of the American dream, which is really only reserved for the already-wealthy white American men and reserve no place for refugees, who are forced to turn to crime in their pursuit of it.

2 Slumdog Millionaire (2008)


Yet another movie told in flashbacks, Slumdog Millionaire is a drama movie, loosely adapted from a book by Desi author Vikas Swarup. Although produced by a British company, the plot tells the story of Jamal Malik from the slums of Mumbai, who, because of his life experiences, manages to answer every question correctly on the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? show, winning $1 million. Because he comes from a poor background, the police accuse him of cheating. There were some mixed reviews, especially from Desi people, whom the story is about, primarily towards the stereotypical depiction of poverty in India. The movie serves as the perfect example of people’s naivety and the belief that all the suffering in our lives might just have an important meaning, which isn’t always the truth.

1 The Social Network (2010)


We’ll end this list on another biographical note, this time directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin. The Social Network tells the story of Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Sean Parker, and their journey to founding one of the biggest social networks in history, Facebook, and the following lawsuits that later came with it. All three core actors — Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, and Justin Timberlake — were praised for their performances and delivering the rags to riches story. The movie has a strong reputation in the film industry as one of the best movies of the 21st Century. It shows how Zuckerberg lost his friends by diluting their shares in the company and removing their names from the masthead.

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