Films can often tell some of the best stories that help us understand ourselves and our relationship to the world around us. These are ten movies you have to watch to understand the dynamics, frustrations, and relationships that dictate work life.
1. Office Space (1999)
In this holy grail of office movies, Ron Livingston plays Peter Gibbons, a man who hates his job at a software company. While in a hypnotherapy session, something amazing happens that changes him forever: He turns from a corporate-tamed dog to a corporate rebel who refuses to work overtime, plays games on his desk and leaves the office whenever he desires.
By coincidence, two external consultants arrive to assess the company’s employees, decide to put him on the management fast-track and fire his two best friends. Peter joins his friends and plots for revenge against the enterprise. The movie shows exactly how frustrated employees feel and how company bureaucracy can influence motivation and morale. All of that is presented in a hilarious all-time modern workplace classic.
2. Horrible Bosses (2011)
Horrible Bosses is not just a great comedy; it’s a box office hit. It’s also one of the best movies about manager-employee relationships. It tells the story of three different employees: Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), who are all miserable at work and share the common desire to murder their bosses.
3. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
This movie tells the story of Andy (Anne Hathaway), a recent college graduate who had big hopes and dreams of working as a serious journalist but ended up settling for a job at a prestigious fashion magazine she doesn’t understand. She finds herself working as an assistant for evil in human form: The editor in chief Miranda Priestly who is brilliantly played by Meryl Streep. Andy struggles to deal with being Miranda’s servant while trying to understand an industry she knows nothing about.
This movie will help you understand what a horrible boss looks like and how to deal with that. Go thank your boss after watching this film, because no one will be as evil as Miranda Priestly.
4. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
A desperate sales race heats up at the New York City real estate office, a race that will end with firing all but the top two salesmen in the office. The movie is a classic and an excellent source of sales-related knowledge; it will help you get a feel of how tough sales can be, as well as what ABC means to salespeople.
5. Meraty Modeer A’aam (1966)
The movie humorously discusses women’s rights at work and sexism in the workplace. It tells the story of a guy who works as an engineer in a construction company where his wife works too. His wife gets promoted to general, and he starts dealing with so many differences in the way his wife treats him at work and home. The movie shows how women can be great leaders in their careers and still balance that with their lives at home.
6. Ard El-Nefaq (1968)
Everybody remembers the famous “shankal” scene that perfectly represents government bureaucracy. Masood Abu El-Saad, a stereotypical married employee who can’t change his life, finds a shop that sells good and bad values like honesty and hypocrisy. He buys them and his life changes. The movie shows what happens when hypocrisy allows people to move up the corporate ladder.
7. The Intern (2015)
A retiree is bored of his stagnant lifestyle and feels very lonely, so he goes on a job hunt and lands an internship at a growing New York-based startup. He ends up mentoring the CEO about how to deal with stress and work life balance; the movie is an eye-opener to how tough it can be in start-ups.
8. Boiler Room (2000)
A young and ambitious broker is trying to create a career in an investment firm, but his company is not as legitimate as he might think it is. The movie teaches us an important lesson about doing background checks on the companies we join; it also shows how the trading sales environment looks like and how tough yet exciting sales can be.
9. Margin Call (2011)
The movie tells the story of one financial analyst who discovers devastating information inside his investment firm during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis. What follows is a series of life-saving decision-making processes that take place during one 24-hour period as news of the ensuing disaster makes its way up the corporate ladder.
‘Margin call’ is great not only because it tells a story that affected the entire world from one firm’s internal perspective, but it also helps the viewer understand how different managers from different corporate levels think about decision making.
10. Up in the Air (2009)
The movie tells the story of a new employee who develops a remote and computer-based method to fire people in her firm, which replaces what Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) does for a living. He decides to take her on tour across the US to demonstrate why face-to-face meetings are necessary for corporate firings.
Are there any other movies about work life that resonated with you? Share your suggestions with us in the comments below.
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