Pop some popcorn and snuggle in for movie night. We’ve rounded up nine movies that are especially entertaining, humorous, or inspirational for people in their early careers. *Spoiler-free!*
I. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
The Devil Wears Prada pulls back the curtain of the fashion publishing industry with flair and humor. It’s a great rom-com – and Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, and Emily Blunt are all iconic in their roles – but it’s also a great film for young professionals. A great many of us have held positions for difficult bosses, similar to Andrea in the film; and it’s fun to watch her learn how to handle her ruthless supervisor and stay true to herself.
Best quote for YPs: (after Andrea says her personal life is falling apart) “That’s what happens when you start doing well at work. Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it’s time for a promotion.” -Nigel
II. The Graduate (1967)
Ever feel directionless? That’s the situation that we find Benjamin Braddock in at the start of this Dustin Hoffman film. Now that he’s graduated from college, Benjamin has no idea what he wants to do with his life. An affair with his parents’ seductive friend, Mrs. Robinson, provides a distraction…until he ends up falling head over heels for her daughter.
The Graduate is a memorable film that’s both dramatic and awkward – plus, it has a Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. We recommend this one if you’re feeling stuck in life (but we don’t really recommend getting involved in a weird mother-daughter love triangle if you get bored).
Best quote for YPs: “It’s like I was playing some sort of game, but the rules don’t make any sense to me.” -Benjamin
III. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
This would be a great example of what NOT to do as a young professional.
Sure, Jordan Belfort’s drive and competitiveness are inspiring at first. But they rapidly swerve into something manic as we watch Jordan’s ego swell and his bad habits escalate. Like, really badly. The result isn’t good. And the exhibition of Jordan and his debauched friends is…well, uncomfortable.
Maybe if nothing else, The Wolf of Wall Street is a cautionary tale for young professionals; one that demonstrates the consequences of letting ambition, pride, and a lifestyle centered around partying carry us too far.
Best quote for YPs: “Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every f*cking time.” -Jordan
IV. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon and Robin Williams give stellar performances in this tear-jerking movie about a young math prodigy, Will, who works as a janitor at MIT. Will’s potential is stunted by his own inner demons and doubts, which his therapist tries to put to rest.
Good Will Hunting is a phenomenal movie for both college students and recent graduates. At it’s core, the film is a poignant reminder that no matter how humble your origin or your circumstances, sometimes the biggest obstacle standing between you and greatness is yourself.
Best quote for YPs: “You’ll have bad times, but it will always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” -Sean
V. Legally Blonde (2001)
Legally Blonde is a hallmark of chick-flick culture. If you haven’t yet been inspired by Elle Woods’ journey of self-discovery as she achieves admission into Harvard Law School (“what, like it’s hard?”), you’re missing out.
It’s satisfying to watch Elle smash the stereotype of a blonde sorority girl and learns just what she is capable of.
Best quote for YPs: “I worked so hard to get into law school. I blew off Greek week to study for the LSATs. I even hired a Coppola to direct my admissions video.” -Elle
VI. All About Eve (1950)
The storyline of this classic movie revolves around the cutthroat cattiness of show-business as an established Broadway star takes a demure, aspiring actress named Eve under her wing. But as the plot unfolds, we learn that Eve may be more cunning than she seems.
This Bette Davis flick may not be the immediate choice for a career movie. Yet it contains all the elements of one – a storyline about greed, betrayal, and climbing to the top – all within an utterly fabulous two hours and eighteen minutes. Also…it’s 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and is described there as “elegantly bitchy.” Ya know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Best quote for YPs: “Funny business, a woman’s career. The things you drop on your way up the ladder so you can move faster.” -Margo
VII. The Godfather (and The Godfather Part II)
We’re cheating a little and putting two movies into one listing here. 🙂
If you haven’t seen The Godfather and it’s first sequel, you’re missing out. They’re well-plotted, lush, and violently beautiful movies that keep you guessing right up to the end. What’s more, they actually have great applications for career-minded individuals, too.
Let’s be super clear here: we’re not advocating for an organized crime lifestyle. But putting the whole mafia theme aside, the first two films in the Godfather franchise offer great insight into thinking strategically and being patient. Observe the character development of protagonist Michael Corleone in both of the films and see if it changes your current perspective on business and loyalties.
Best quote for YPs: “There are many things my father taught me here in this room. He taught me: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” -Michael
VIII. Up in the Air (2009)
George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga star in this romantic comedy-drama about a “corporate downsizer” (i.e. a professional firer) who finds his tidy world of constant business travel turned upside down.
For young professionals, Up in the Air is relatable from a variety of perspectives. Certainly many of us can relate to Kendrick’s character, who enters the corporate world with high ambitions despite condescension from more seasoned professionals. The more career-oriented among us may even be able to relate to Clooney or Farmiga’s characters, though they take ambition to the extreme. At any rate, it’s an engaging watch that provides some insight (often comedically) into the non-stop culture of corporate America.
Best quote for YPs: (to man being fired) “Anybody who ever built an empire or changed the world sat where you are now. And it’s because they sat there that they were able to do it.” -Ryan
IX. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
Frank Capra’s beloved classic is traditionally a Christmas movie, but it has an awesome message for young professionals any time of year. It chronicles the life of George Bailey, a businessman in a small town who never really got the chance to explore the world as he always dreamed he would. Shortly before Christmas, he finds himself in a desperate situation that renders him ready to take his own life…until he has the chance to see what the world would be like without him.
Everyone should watch this movie at some point…preferably around the holiday season, when it’s especially heartwarming. If nothing else, it’s an awesome reminder that even if you haven’t achieved your goals yet; even if you feel hopeless and desperate and that you have nowhere to turn; you aren’t a failure if you are loved.
Best quote for YPs: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many others. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” -Clarence
Do you have a favorite film that you’d recommend for young professionals? Leave a comment or tag us on social!