Pursuits | TV/Film

10 films that highlight the disruptors of today’s world

Blockchain, artificial intelligence and big data are booming industries that both inspire the fictional world and impact a CPA’s real world

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A photo collage of stills from the films Her, Ready Player One, Coded Bias and Capital in the Twenty-First Century From artificial intelligence to blockchain, these movies and documentaries capture the disruptors impacting our world today

The accounting profession is evolving. It’s an inevitable shift given all of the disruptions—economic, environmental, technological, geopolitical and societal—influencing life around us. For a glimpse of where we are, and could possibly be headed in the future, check out our picks for films that highlight the disruptors of today’s world.


Capital in the Twenty-First Century
By Justin Pemberton (2019; available in French)

Those who don’t have the time to dive into this 976-page bestseller by French economist Thomas Piketty will particularly appreciate the screen adaptation. In the documentary, Piketty explains how some people exploit the fiscal system and touches on the imminent social repercussions that can be expected.

The Social Dilemma
By Jeff Orlowski (2020; available in French)

What strategies does social media use to get us hooked? And what are the consequences? While we long believed its goal was to collect (and resell) data, the documentary takes a broader view, showing how social media influences what we do and how we think. More chillingly, The Social Dilemma reminds us that if we’re not paying for it, we are the product.


By Spike Jonze (2013; available in French)

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is depressed and lonely since he separated from his wife. His life takes an unexpected turn when he acquires a new operating system with artificial intelligence for his computer. Very quickly, the virtual entity named Samantha (Scarlett Johannson) shows an exceptional evolutionary capacity. Equipped with its own consciousness, it develops increasingly complex emotional relationships with the hero.

Two variations on the same theme to check out are Chappie and Singularity.


Coded Bias
By Shalini Kantayya (2020)

Joy Buolamwini, an African-American researcher at MIT, has a strange experience when the facial-recognition software she was planning to use fails to detect her face due to the colour of her skin. What follows in the eye-opening documentary is a careful unveiling of how machine learning algorithms perpetuate certain social, racial and gender inequalities in society today.


Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain
By Alex Winter (2019)

This documentary explores blockchain, the decentralized technology on which crypto-assets are based. The director rhetorically asks why banks are still so afraid of blockchain when the technology could advance the fight against income inequality and hunger in the world. UNICEF, for instance, is already using it to help refugee children.

Other documentaries on the same topic include The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin and Banking on Bitcoin. The film Crypto is also worth a watch.


Living in the Future’s Past
By Susan Kucera (2018)

Human beings: who are we really? What kind of future are we preparing for? What will be the challenges of tomorrow? Narrator Jeff Bridges discusses all of these issues in the documentary, prompting us to review our way of thinking, our motivations to act and the possible consequences for the future of humanity.


American Factory
By Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (2019; available in French)

The Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature in 2020, American Factory tells the story of how Chinese car part maker Fuyao bought an abandoned General Motors plant in Ohio. In addition to depicting the culture shock between Chinese trainers and U.S. workers striving to unionize, the feature takes an unexpected look at globalization.


Ready Player One
By Steven Spielberg (2018; available in French)

The society Spielberg describes in his latest film is so frightening that everyone, including its young protagonist Wade Watts, has only one dream: to live in OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation), a global virtual reality system.

Creative Control
By Benjamin Dickinson (2015; available in French)

Actor Benjamin Dickinson (who also directed the movie) plays David, a young and hip New York ad executive working on the launch of one of a-kind glasses that blend reality and virtual reality. Things gets complicated when he can’t quite tell the two apart anymore and develops a relationship with a hologram.


Imitation Game
By Morten Tyldum (2014; available in French))

In 1940, the British government hires mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing to break the code of the German encryption machine Enigma, a communication tool thought to be unassailable. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Turing strives to build a machine capable of analyzing each new message even faster.

In a similar vein, number-lovers will also love the sports drama Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt.


Try spotting the accountant in the plotline of these popular films. Also, stay up-to-date on the learnings emerging from CPA Canada’s strategic initiative to reshape the accounting profession.