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The 8 Best Career Movies of All Time

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Devil Wears Prada

Ever watch a movie and think, “Oh my God, that is my LIFE?”

Yeah, that happens all the time. And especially when it comes to your career, sometimes the movies just so perfectly represent where you’re at.

In our (maybe not-so-humble) opinion, here are the eight best career movies and the crazy lessons they teach us:

1. The Devil Wears Prada

Plot: Girl gets everybody’s dream job at fashion magazine. Boss is bitch, takes over girl’s life with ridiculous demands. Girl becomes pretty, learns valuable career lesson.

Valuable career lesson: Sometimes from the outside it seems like we should take that amazing-sounding job or do that one little thing for our bosses that’s actually completely inappropriate – until one day we find out the job has completely taken over our lives. When it comes to drastic career moves, trust your gut on what feels right and what feels like too big a compromise.

2. The Pursuit of Happyness

Plot: Man who’s always struggled to make ends meet gets custody of his son, becomes homeless and manages to become a fancy pants stockbroker with a lot of determination and elbow grease.

Valuable career lesson: It’s never too late to change your career and “make something” of yourself. Also? Life is hard. Deal with it.

3. The Social Network

Plot: Facebook. ‘Nough said.

Valuable career lesson: Sell out your friends, be an asshole and you will be one of the most successful people on the planet. But that doesn’t mean you won’t Facebook-stalk your exes just like the rest of us.

4. Jerry Maguire

Plot: Sports agent has an epiphany about the future of his industry and gets fired because of it.

Valuable career lesson: It is, in fact, possible to love what you do, make a difference and have an “important” career without being a completely asshole in the process.

5. Office Space

Plot: Group of friends hate their jobs. Layoffs affect the office place. Group plants a virus to steal money from the company but it all goes horribly wrong! And by “wrong” we mean “oh-so-right.” (This is easily one of the best movies ever and so perfectly depicts what it’s like to be in a job you hate.)

Valuable career lesson: Co-workers are everything. The best thing about this movie is the cast and how the characters work together (and sometimes completely mess with each other). They teach us how you can stand even the worst job when there are awesome people involved. And also that if you don’t have awesome people, you may or may not “set the building on fire.”

6. Clerks

Plot: Classic Kevin Smith movie about two slightly obnoxious guys who work at a convenience store.

Valuable career lesson: Be nice to the people behind the counter. “Just because they serve you, doesn’t mean they like you.”

7. Up in the Air

Plot: Guy has a job that involves firing people. His home is essentially – wait for it – up in the air. He’s all lonely and empty and stuff.

Valuable career lesson: Even with a job as glamorous as constant travel, coming back to a proper home is worth more than you’d think. There’s something to be said for downtime and, as Americans, we rarely get that in the workplace. Which means home needs to be a place where you feel safe, relax and chilled out. We promise it will make you more productive and better at your job in the long run.

8. Wall Street

Plot: It’s called Wall Street, people, which means it’s even more relevant today than in 1987. Stockbroker is ambitious. Stockbroker makes a few dirty decisions.

Valuable career lesson: Don’t work on Wall Street. Greed is bad. Watch out for shady stockbroker mentors.

What awesome movies did we miss?

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at marianlibrarian.com.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.generationxpert.com/ GenerationXpert

    You missed Nine to Five. It’s old, but it’s awesome.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      I definitely wanted to add that one as I’ve heard good things. Haven’t seen it though but now I will!

    • Anonymous

      I agree! Nine to Five is totally awesome.

      • Anonymous

        But overall, this list is pretty great.

  • MJ

    Morning Glory. It’s a little cheesy, but anyone who’s worked the bottom rung in any journalism institution can commiserate with it.

    • Joyce

      Yup! This movie describes to a T what working as a TV producer is all about. I was majoring in communications and during my internship (it was paid), I was delegated with executive producer duties (it was a low budget TV show anyways), and I felt like that movie was narrating the story of that internship.

      • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

        Never heard of it but now I’ll definitely have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion guys!

  • Jessica DiRocco

    Awesome, awesome list. Everyone, at least once in their lives, can relate to Office Space.

  • http://www.rome-airport.net/ Rome airport

    The Devil Wears Prada is unbeatable. IMHO

  • Ghadeer1

    Confessions of a shopaholic

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Good one.

    • http://awannabeemployee.blogspot.com/ Kobie Snyman

      Yes great suggestion for the list!

  • http://www.smashonline.net/ Social Media

    Wall street was really great. i will rank no. 1

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Working Girl, 9 to 5, but you really hit it with Devil Wears Prada!

  • CMS

    American Beauty and the wonderful escape of having as little responsibility as possible

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Yes! American Beauty is a great example.

  • http://twitter.com/Indomarijuana Indo marijuana

    I have to say, awesome choices. I really enjoyed the social network, office space and The Pursuit of Happiness. again great pick’s and thanks!

  • http://www.hdlcdtv.org/ TV

    Nice list.
    I remember this scene in “Up In the Air” where the lead character of George Clooney realizes that he is love with Vera Farmiga and make a surprise visit to her home. The moment he realized that his girlfriend was wife of someone else and got her own family.

    The movie also tries to portray the hard reality of layoffs.

    • wunth

      Ok, no reason to see that movie any more!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Yeah…. spoiler alert anyone?

  • Chris

    Money Ball I think is a pretty good career movie! I think it is shows the essence of entrepreneurship. I think is a must for someone reinventing himself and digging a way out.

  • Kaflansburg

    Where is Working Girl??? I’ve got a fire in my belly!!!!

  • Ryan Greenfield

    How to succeed in business without really trying! Great 60s movie.

  • D.Burkhart

    BABY BOOM! Diane Keaton is an unexpected godparent who has to shift from corporate America to homemaker and still figure out how to pay the bills.

  • D.Burkhart
  • Jim

    Horrible bosses

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Is it good? Haven’t seen it yet and really want to!

  • Paul H.

    Great list. Instead of Morning Glory (which has a great cast but there’s a few others about working in journalism that are even better), check out: Broadcast News, Network or All the President’s Men.

    I liked Secret of My Success with Michael J. Fox.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dmitriy-A-Lebedev/100000156126381 Dmitriy A Lebedev

    You missed “Office Space” ;)

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      ?? Office Space is definitely up there!

  • Ejjohnson

    What about 9 to 5?

  • Ejjohnson

    A TV show that was really funny about work life was Murphy Brown – I loved that show!

  • Grayce

    Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Room should definitely be on the list – both awesome movies!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000005104938 Elizabeth Audrey Edwards

    How about “Working Girl” w/Melanie Griffith?

    • Deeblacky

      Melly, who describes herself as – the woman whose husband makes love to her EVERY NIGHT – is a brainless twit. Her face is lopsided and she had a great body before she got twisted and so paranoid that Antonio would NOT make love . . . . she started having it rearranged – what a mess! Talentless tart!

    • Beatrice Benedick

      Totally agree Working Girl is one of the most inspiring career girl stories. Not only it has a tremendous cast (Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack and Sygourny Weaver) but it leaves you with a wonderful message. Plus the music is awesome. I love that movie and I am looking for other movies with similar topics. (like Devil Wears Prada). I was thinking about “Julie and Julia” (chef and writer).

  • Cherylchristman

    Working Girl gets my vote!

  • Mustafa Ghaleiw

    “Warrior” 2011 is a really a great inspirational movie, very moving, it’s about sacrifice, honesty, determination, hard work & a great love of your family even if one has to lose his/her job.

  • Alnesq

    Of course, Working girl and Nine to Five, as others have mentioned, but art is work too, so add “Mao’s Last Dancer” to this list.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Neat! Haven’t heard of it but sounds good. Thanks for the suggestions! (and I clearly need to watch both Working Girl and 9 to 5. For shame.)

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  • Sydney Career Consulting

    How about Cocktail or The colour of Money?

  • http://talk-iphone.com/ Elena Gilbert

    7 pounds

    • http://www.sollicitatiebriefvoorbeeldcv.nl/voorbeeld-motivatiebrief-verkoper/ Voorbeeld Motivatiebrief

      I agree! Seven pounds also deserves to be up there

  • Warren

    How about The Howdy Doody Show? I patterned my life after him, and it made me the man I am today- wooden, obnoxious, and stupid. That’s right! I’m a boss!

  • http://www.tourist-destinations.com/ Tourist

    I love The Pursuit of Happyness. It is one of the best movies of Will Smith

  • http://awannabeemployee.blogspot.com/ Kobie Snyman

    REALLY enjoyed this one!! It puts things in perspective if you see examples of bosses who are WAY worse that your own ☺

  • http://TeachMeAwesome.com/ Ben Winters

    Haha Awesome list! Devil Wears Prada? Never thought about it but it’s a good one!

    Ben Winters CEO
    http://www.TeachMeAwesome.com
    Teaching you awesome.. 1 day at a time

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  • Youdont

    Pirates of Silicon Valley….

  • Anonymous

    Marian – what’s a social media thug? Shooooooow me the Moneeeeeeeee!

  • Lana
  • Pac

    the tops of all time you didn’t even put on the list. That would be: Lost in America!!

  • http://twitter.com/gkhndes Gok

    The new TV show “Shameless”

  • Jan van Schuppen

    Boiler Room? Anybody?

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