Most people celebrate Labor Day weekend by spending time with their families and friends. This can manifest in a lot of ways, though watching movies remains one of the most popular options. Here are the best Labor Day movies to add to your list.
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Top Labor Day Movies to Watch This Holiday Weekend
Movies can be very magical — they can inspire, excite, comfort, disturb, and provoke. They can impact the cultural zeitgeist and the lives of people who watch them. They also have the uncanny ability to bring people together. This is why many continue to watch films as a way to bond.
Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday of September, is celebrated in different ways. Some attend parties and participate in outdoor activities, while others choose to remain indoors and watch a movie or two. After all, everyone deserves a relaxing three-day weekend every once in a while.
If you want to spend this holiday at home either with company or alone, here are the best Labor Day movies you can watch, listed in order of the year they were released.
1. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by John Steinbeck, “The Grapes of Wrath” is set in the 1930s and depicts the life of an Oklahoma family during the Great Depression. After losing their farm, members of the Joads family become migrant workers in California. The film shows the taxing journey of the family as they travel across the country looking for work.
2. The Organizer (1963)
Also known as “I compagni,” this Italian-language film takes place at the close of the 19th century in Northern Italy. It tells the story of a labor activist who helps disgruntled textile mill workers go on a strike. Considering the history of the holiday, “The Organizer” certainly holds true to its status as an excellent Labor Day film.
3. Norma Rae (1979)
Set in North Carolina, “Norma Rae” tells the story of the titular character who involves herself in trade union activities after suffering health issues due to poor working conditions at the textile factory she works at. Sally Field plays Norma Rae Webster for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
4. 9 to 5 (1980)
“9 to 5” follows three working women — Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton, and Lily Tomlin — as they plot to get revenge on their lying, sexist, and egotistical boss (Dabney Coleman). Parton wrote and sang the film’s theme song of the same name, which was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars. The comedy film was so successful that it spawned a television series and a musical play with songs written by Parton.
5. Trading Places (1983)
“Trading Places” tells the story of a rich broker (Dan Aykroyd) and a poor hustler (Eddie Murphy) who have become the subjects of a bet. The bet swaps their life circumstances to see how each man will react and perform. It has been touted as one of the best comedy films of all time — and certainly one to make your Labor Day special.
6. Working Girl (1988)
It may seem silly to place a romantic comedy on this list of Labor Day movies. However, “Working Girl” tells an important story. It follows an ambitious secretary, Tess (Melanie Griffith), who assumes the role of her new boss, Katharine (Sigourney Weaver), after the latter breaks her leg. Tess, who received her bachelor’s degree in business after attending night school, proposes a good idea, but Katharine tries to take credit for it. Things get even more complicated when an M&A associate, Jack (Harrison Ford), enters the picture.
7. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
“Glengarry Glen Ross” takes place over two days as four real estate salesmen compete to close the most deals after a motivational trainer declares that only the top two salesmen will get to keep their jobs. The title of the film, which itself was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, comes from Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms, the two developments that the men are selling.
8. Office Space (1999)
What’s a better Labor Day movie than one set in an office? “Office Spaces” is a satirical comedy that follows the lives of some software company employees who are tired of their jobs. It explores themes related to the workforce and has become a cult classic.
9. North Country (2005)
Starring Charlize Theron, “North Country” follows a single mother, Josey, working at an iron mine where she and other women suffer from sexual harassment at the hands of their male co-workers, who believe that women don’t belong in the mine. Despite other people’s warnings, Josey files a historic sexual harassment lawsuit.
10. Up in the Air (2009)
“Up in the Air” follows an idealistic new graduate, Natalie (Anna Kendrick), as she works for a company that specializes in firing people for other companies. Her job requires her to travel to different states with a veteran “downsizer” named Ryan (George Clooney) — something she wants to change by taking the company into the digital age. Receiving critical acclaim, the film is definitely one of the best movies Labor Day has to offer.
11. Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
“Dinner for Schmucks” tells the story of an executive, Tim (Paul Rudd), after he is invited to a dinner by his superiors where everyone is expected to bring an idiot as a guest. The person who brings the biggest idiot of the night wins. Initially appalled by the idea, Tim changes his mind when he meets Barry (Steve Carell), the perfect guest.
12. Horrible Bosses (2011)
“Horrible Bosses” follows three men who are dissatisfied with each of their abusive and tyrannical bosses. Pushed to their limit, the men all decide to murder their bosses with the help of a “murder consultant”. The film stars Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and Jamie Foxx.
13. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
This biographical black comedy tells the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), a stockbroker who runs a corrupt and fraudulent firm in New York City. Belfort ran the operation with his business partner, Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). It is based on the real-life Belfort’s memoir of the same name.
14. Support the Girls (2018)
“Support the Girls” centers on Lisa (Regina Hall), the manager of a Hooters-like restaurant who is protective of her staff. The film also explores the lives of the waitresses who are each dealing with problems in their own lives. While the film largely flew under the radar, it is undoubtedly one of the good Labor Day movies out there today.
15. Parasite (2019)
Labor Day doesn’t need to be confined to the American space, and “Parasite” is the perfect movie if you want a glimpse of the other side. It tells the story of a poor family who plots to gain employment with a wealthy family through primarily fraudulent means. This film made waves internationally and even won four awards at the Oscars. It is the first non-English language movie to receive the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Enjoy Your Labor Day Weekend
With a long weekend ahead, now is the best time to start planning activities. Whether you’re in the mood for only one movie or an entire movie marathon, these Labor Day movies should keep you satisfied.
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