The Oscars are just around the corner, so needless to say, I’ve got movies on the brain. In case you haven’t guessed it, I’m a bit of a movie fanatic. When I was growing up, the video store by my house used to send my family gift packages for Christmas because we basically kept them in business. When I was 14 they asked my mom if they could give me a job since they might as well pay me if I’m going to be there all the damn time. But enough about that.
So since I’ve been thinking about movies so much lately, I got to thinking about my favorite movie genres, and one stood out as the obvious winner: coming of age movies. I think I’ll mentally forever be a 12-year-old boy, so coming of age movies get me every time. There are some super famous ones that everyone loves, and then there are some more obscure that everyone should love, and I’ve decided to compile a list (in no particular order) of the 20 that I think are the best, and if you don’t agree, well, shut up! Get your own blog!
Now and Then
As a girl who came of age in the 1990’s, Now and Then basically defined my youth. Every girl in my age bracket wanted to have that amazing Now and Then summer where they had séances, solved mysteries, bought amazing treehouses, and, most importantly, got to kiss Devon Sawa.
Little Darlings is one of my all time favorite movies, and so sincere about female friendships, rivalries, and losing your virginity. Basically it’s about an all girls camp, two of the girls (Farris and Angel) are pressured to make a bet to see who can lose their virginity first by the end of the summer, the boys camp is across the lake, hilarity and feelings ensue.
I love a good baseball movie, and The Sandlot, for me, is the king of baseball movies. Set in the 1950’s, it’s about a nerdy outsider, a rag tag group of boys, a secret baseball field, a monster dog, Babe Ruth, friendship, and one amazing summer, this movie has everything, plus it’s truly hilarious and timeless.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
A movie about a single school year at Ridgemont High. Drugs, abortions, grades, partying, finding yourself. It has everything a coming of age movie should have.
Stand By Me
A true coming of age classic about four young boys who set out to find a dead body, but instead end up finding themselves (cheesy, I know). Plus, it stars the amazing River Phoenix whose death I will never get over and is the #1 reason I will never do heroin (whatever keeps kids off drugs, I guess?)
The Breakfast Club
One word: DUH!
A 90’s retelling of the classic tale, Emma, about a ditzy California girl who finds herself and falls in love with her former step-brother. Plus, it’s totally the peak in Alicia Silverstone’s career.
Can’t Hardly Wait
It’s the last party of high school, so it’s time for everyone to spill their true feelings and anything can happen. The geek can be the star of the party, the moody loner can hook up with the wannabe gangsta, the jock can become the loser, and the average guy can get the girl. Plus, the final kissing scene with the song “Only You” by Yaz? Perfection.
The Virgin Suicides
A painful and beautiful story about the hardships and isolations of being a teenage girl, and the difficulties faced by the boys trying to understand and love them. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well for anyone, but the film is stunning, both the story and the visuals.
Dazed and Confused
The classic film follows several groups of teens on the last day of school in 1976. People find themselves, yadda yadda.
Rebel Without a Cause
This beautiful depiction of 1950s confused and angst-filled youth culture in Los Angeles set the standard for coming of age teen films. James Dean, Natalie Wood, and Sal Mineo, who all died tragically in real life, portrayed teen angst to perfection and all three seemed truly haunted.
Dead Poets Society
The movie that made me want to be an English teacher. Robin Williams teaches a bunch of prep school boys about Carpe Diem, the original YOLO.
The story of a Long Island teenage virgin who’s forced to take a shitty summer job in order to save up for grad school after his parents let him know there’s no money left for him to go to New York.
How to somehow get booze for the final party of high school so you can impress girls. The fear of losing your best friend. The pressures of sex. A friend named McLovin. Superbad is really just the best.
Some people say you should never meet your idols, and Almost Famous proves just that. It’s the story of a teenager thrust into a life of rock and roll, and all it’s ups and downs, in the 1970s.
Moonrise Kingdom quickly won my heart and became one of my absolute favorite movies of all time. Set in 1965,a pre-teen orphaned boy scout and an eccentric dreamer, respectively, share first-time love, run away from their homes and cause a cast of grade-A actors (including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray) to drop everything and search for them.
Welcome to the Dollhouse
An unusual story about a usual cast of characters, primarily 13-year-old Dawn Wiener, who is painfully weird, longs to be considered pretty, is desperate for her parents attention, and wants nothing more than to be finger banged by a popular older boy.
The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys
The tragic film is about a group of Catholic school friends in the 1970s who engage in a series of pranks and general mischief that leads to all sorts of consequences.
Another case of the DUHS
Igby Goes Down
Basically a modern retelling of The Catcher in the Rye, so, you know.