My Favorite Coming-of-Age Movies

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.” – The Breakfast Club

I could be wrong but, in my opinion I feel like there is a difference between a teen movie and a coming-of-age movie. A movie like Clueless feels more like a teen rom-com than something like Boyhood, a story that follows a boy through his adolescence.

When I look at some of my favorite movies, most fall into the genre of  coming-of-age—movies from my childhood and today. It’s probably the reason why I read mostly YA books.

Last month, I saw Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut, Booksmart, and it immediately became my favorite movie of the year, and it’s only June! The journey these two girls go through in the span of one night and the friendship they have for each other was extremely entertaining and touching. It reminded me of the great coming -of-age movies from my own adolescence and their inspiring protagonists.

This list is going to be broken down into categories by age:

Early Teens:

The kids in these movies are all on the cusp of entering teenagehood, arguably one of the most confusing and stressful times of your life. I used to rent both Now & Then and The Babysitter’s Club constantly. These kids are experiencing first loves, familial disputes, and riffs in friendships. The Kings of Summer is a pretty underrated movie that definitely deserves more hype. It follows three teenage boys who try to leave their dysfunctional families to live off the land.

High School:

John Hughes was a pioneer in the genre of coming-of-age films. Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Pretty in Pink are iconic, practically synonymous when you think of a teen movie. They paved the way for the movies being made today.

I never really thought of Almost Famous as coming-of-age because when you first think of the movie, you think of the this band on the brink of stardom. However, at the core of the story is this kid experiencing drugs, alcohol, and sex of the 1970’s music world.

Every single one of these movies take the premise of blossoming adolescence and make these stories compelling, inspiring, and original.

Stories Told Over Time:

While Boyhood isn’t one of my favorite movies, it did pretty incredible things when it comes to storytelling: a series of vignettes chronically the life of a boy, from early childhood to college. Across the 12 years it took to make the film, director Richard Linklater used the same actors and would film once a year. While Moonlight only covers three different parts of this man’s life, you see the progression of his family, his friendships, and his understanding of his sexuality.

BONUS! Great TV Shows:

So that’s it. Making this post made me realize that these are pretty much all my favorites. If you think I missed anything, leave it in the comments!

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