- Nine to Five (1980)
With a star cast of Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, Nine to Five is an must-watch American comedy about three working women living out their fantasies of overthrowing their sexist, bigoted and egotistical boss.
Interestingly, the song—and film—owe their titles to 9to5, the National Association of Working Women. This is an organisation founded in 1973 in the USA with the aim of bringing about fair pay and equal treatment for women in the workplace.
This is listed in the top one hundred funniest movies of all time by the American Film Institute. Nine to Five is a must watch.
2. Educating Rita (1983)
Starring Michael Caine, and Julie Walters. Educating Rita is a British Comedy-Drama based on a stage play by Willy Russell.
Walters plays a working-class hairdresser who is fed up with the monotonous nature of her routine and social life and enrols in Open University.
She begins studying with Dr. Bryant (Michael Caine), a professor using alcohol to cope with his divorce. Despite his personal problems, Dr. Bryant helps Rita realise her academic potential. In turn, her passion for learning revitalises his love of teaching. However, when Rita’s blue-collar spouse learns that his wife is more interested in education than homemaking, he becomes frustrated by her independence.
The film has an angry message that people are trapped by their environment, not their abilities. This is a film with a strong class narrative and gender politics to boot.
Walters and Caine won a BAFTA and Golden Globe for best actress and actor. The BFI ranked the film 84th best British film of all time. Go Rita!
3. Two Days, One Night (2014)
I was so excited when this Cannes nominated film from the Dardenne Brothers (Belgium’s equivalent of Ken Loach) came to the big screen. Set in a small industrial town, Sandra works in a small solar panel factory. After returning from leave for anxiety and depression, she discovers that her colleagues at the factory job where she works have opted for a 1000 euro bonus at the expense of her job, she must convince them throughout a weekend to give up those bonuses so that she can stay in her job.
Told entirely from Sandra’s perspective, Two Days, One Night is a tough watch, but a brilliant film. While it tells a simple story, the stakes have never been higher, and Sandra played by Marion Cotillard is at her best. A truly labour film! Watch now!
4. Silkwood (1983)
Starring Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell. Silkwood is a true story drama based on the real-life events of Karen Silkwood who was a nuclear whistle-blower and labour union activist working at a plutonium power plant in Oklahoma. She died under suspicious circumstances when investigating wrongdoings at the plant.
Nominated for five academy awards, Silkwood is an iconic labour film that should not be missed!
5. Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
Happy-Go-Lucky is a 2008 British comedy drama written and directed by Mike Leigh. The screenplay focuses on a cheerful and optimistic primary school teacher and her relationships with those around her.
Starring a ferocious performance from Eddie Marsan as the volatile driving instructor, Happy-Go-Lucky is a must-see film. Watch The superb Sally Hawkins in an early starring role.