Work From Home

A cinematic watchlist

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Before she was the Pickford Film Center’s education outreach manager, Mikayla Nicholson worked at Film is Truth. As a former movie rental store employee, she knows her way around a movie recommendation, a skill that comes in handy under all kinds of normal circumstances, but never more so than during a global pandemic when we are seeking all of the distractions we can get.

Like nearly everyone, Nicholson is working from home these days, so it was only natural that she put together a watchlist of films to keep herself inspired and motivated. The idea is not necessarily to binge watch all of these (although you certainly can—all judgment is suspended during a pandemic). Instead, you can queue them up in the background while you work the day away. With her permission, her are some of the cinematic gems she’s got on tap.

9 to 5: If your day begins with tumblin’ out of bed and stumblin’ to the kitchen to pour yourself a cup of ambition, this is the movie for you. After spending years being persecuted by their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot” of a boss (Dabney Coleman), the dream team of Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda get even by kidnapping him, collecting evidence to blackmail him and instituting such fair workplace policies as flexible hours, equal pay, job-sharing and onsite daycare. Released in 1980, many of the film’s themes—and its jokes—still resonate even today.

The Devil Wears Prada: I have watched this 2006 adaptation of the popular bestseller by Lauren Weisberger many times for two reasons: the Oscar-nominated performance by Meryl Streep as boss from hell Miranda Priestly (rumored to be based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour) and the excellent supporting turn by Emily Blunt. Change out of that sweat suit, don your best cerulean blue sweater and pretend you’re a fashionista.

Office Space: In the pantheon of workplace movies, this 1999 Mike Judge film is near the top. Like 9 to 5, this features an insufferable boss (Gary Cole) and a trio of revenge-seeking employees (Ron Livingston, Ajay Naidu, and David Herman). Enter a couple of efficiency experts, a hypnotist, a possibly cheating girlfriend and a very early-in-her-career Jennifer Aniston with an aversion to flair, and what you’ve got is a modern-day workplace classic.

Spotlight: Not surprisingly, I love a newspaper movie (worth noting: All the President’s Men and His Girl Friday are also on Nicholson’s full work-at-home watchlist) and this 2016 Best Picture winner is a top-notch example of the genre. The film follows the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team as they work on what would become a bombshell investigation and Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of abuse within the Catholic church. A stellar cast that includes Michael Keaton (fresh off an Oscar nod for Birdman) and Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams (in a pair of Oscar-nominated performances) and a slow-burner of a plot that will remind you how powerful and essential print media really is.

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