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Fell in Love With a Girl

Workforce Management asked Academy Award winner Luke Matheny what his picks would be in our Pop Culture bracket challenge. And here's what he chose.

March 14, 2012

Hey there pop culture fans, here are my picks for Workforce Management's Pop Culture bracket challenge. In case you were wondering, you might remember me as that guy with the big hair from last year's Academy Awards.

Anyway, here goes.

In the Midwest, it was hard to vote against Grapes of Wrath. There are so many great workforce themes: oversupply of labor, Big Agriculture ganging up on the smaller family farms, the pros and cons of federal work programs, etc. The Office might have been the obvious choice here, and of all the players in this field, it probably most resembled my actual time as an editorial assistant at Crain's Electronic Media (now known as TVWeek) in the late 1990s. But in the end, I appreciated the transcontinental scope of Wrath over the Scranton claustrophobia of The Office.

Network was a strong contender in the West with its prescient depiction of how a network news division abandons its journalistic ideals in pursuit of ratings. And, of course, who among us has not, at one point, been "mad as hell" and preferred not to "take it anymore"? But for the win, I had to go with Pursuit of Happyness. Along with last year's Margin Call, it's one of those movies that does the impossible: It makes you feel really sorry for a guy who works in the financial industry.

In the East, Lilies of the Field showed a great collaboration between an independent contractor and a religious not-for-profit. I do like Allentown and its poignant examination of a community's battle with the decline of manufacturing jobs, and I always enjoyed the line, "They never told us what was real/Iron and coke, chromium steel." But finally, the sight of Sidney Poitier singing with a bunch of nuns always makes me happy, so Lilies it is.

Unfortunately, the dream matchup in the South—Mad Men vs. its actual period counterpart The Apartment—was not in the cards. But neither stood a chance against the ultimate workplace comedy His Girl Friday, anyway. In its depiction of big-city newspaper reporters, the famed screwball farce reveals the most underappreciated aspect of workplace dynamics: the undeniable benefits of breakneck witty banter. Can you imagine how fun and cool your office would be if everyone raced around and said things like "Now get this, you double-crossing chimpanzee ..."? Morale and productivity would skyrocket! Therefore, His Girl Friday takes it all in the Pop Culture bracket.

Luke Matheny, whose short film God of Love won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short in 2010, is a director, screenwriter and actor based in Santa Monica, California. Check out Matheny's Oscar speech here. To comment, email editors@workforce.com.