What's the most dramatic thing that's ever happened in your office? Some shenanigans at the Christmas party, or maybe the great hole punch heist of 2009? Hell, here at the Shortlist office we once even had a paper jam and toner run out at the same time.
At the movies, though, offices tend to be be a tad more intense. They can be sites for stands for cyborgs from the future, or stages for workaday psychopaths to strut their stuff - or they can be places where the human condition itself is examined. What they never are is boring - so let us run you through the greatest offices ever filmed.
Department of Records, Brazil
It may be one of the greatest satires of bureaucracy ever, but that's really more for later in the film - the office where we first encounter hero Sam Lowry looks downright inviting. Who wouldn't want to work somewhere where you can watch old movies every time the boss isn't looking?
Initech, Office Space
As expressions of the crushing futility of modern life go, Office Space is one of the more entertaining. That said, it absolutely nails many of the frustrations of modern work - from smarmy bosses to meaningless paperwork to a bland and anonymous environment.
The Washington Post, All the President's Men
Newspapers and journalists have taken a kicking in recent years, much of it deserved - but it's fair to remember that they can do more than go through celebrity's rubbish. You won't find a finer portrait of the trade's decent side than in this 1976 classic, where the Washington Post's offices take on an almost saintly glow.
Pierce & Pierce, American Psycho
Bret Easton Ellis's novel may be one of the most disturbing books ever written, but the film wisely chose to play up the black comedy angle, rather than the whole describing-murders-in-surgical-detail angle. This comedy is never better than the scenes in Patrick Bateman's fictional investment bank, where nobody seems to do any work, and the most important thing is having the right business card.
Channel 4 News, Anchorman
No, not that Channel 4 - although we'd pay good money to see a Ron Burgundy/Jon Snow pairing. For all the endlessly quoted lines and Ferrell improv genius, it's easy to forget that Anchorman is, at its heart, a workplace comedy. You could even go further, calling it an insightful portrait of a doddering institution on the eve of the radical changes women's lib would have on the workplace. One with a dog that speaks Spanish.
Cyberdyne Systems, Terminator 2: Judgement Day
It may have a rep for mega-scaled action and revolutionary visual effects, but we mustn't forget that a huge portion of T2's frenetic second half takes place in an office building. So if you're reading this over lunch and are concerned about that big meeting at four, rest easy. Your day could be going much, much worse.
Hollywood, Swimming with Sharks
The 'bastard boss' is practically a whole subgenre for office movies, and you'll struggle to find a better one than Kevin Spacey's monstrous movie mogul. Endlessly cruel to his subordinates, he practices tough love without the love part. Think your boss is bad? Get a load of this clip._______________________________________
The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit
A fascinating time capsule, this, and not just because it's essentially Mad Men long before Don Draper was even imagined. Gregory Peck is a traumatised war veteran in Fifties New York who lets his office job take over his life. For a time when the majority of the American workforce still worked either in a factory or on the land, it's remarkably prescient about the pressures the new forms of work were placing on people._______________________________________
Consolidated Life, The Apartment
One of a mere 32,000 employees of an insurance firm, Jack Lemmon's CC Baxter is one of the little people at a big company - until he spies an opportunity to get ahead by letting his bosses use his apartment for their extra-marital trysts. Daring for the time but tame now, The Apartment has lasted because it got spot-on the poignancies of office life - the quasi-friendships, the almost romances, the feeling of being lost in a pretty indifferent machine. Or it could just be that it's pretty funny.
The British government, In The Loop
Depending on your temperament, the best or worst thing about office life is that everybody is pretty much forced to be nice to each other. But wouldn't it be interesting to work somewhere where you could hold nothing back, and express yourself through elaborate and vivid metaphors? Well, no - it would be the most stressful office imaginable. But the harassment suits would make you rich.