Best Teen Movies of All Time
An adolescent protagonist is good since they are simple to root for. Consider how many of the most famous American television dramas and films from the last half-century, regardless of genre, feature teenagers at the core of their stories: Back to the Future, Donnie Darko, Scream, Karate Kid, and Grease are just a few examples. The list goes on and on. We can all root for a kid’s success in a coming-of-age story because we’ve all been there as much as we’d like to forget it.
From hilarious sex comedies to sad dramas, we’ve gathered some of the best high school movies ever created. Take a trip back in time with the 25 best teen movies.
The 1995 comedy, largely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, follows Beverly Hills adolescent Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) as she befriends a brand new student at school and traverses the rigors of puberty, popularity, and…step-sibling romance. Stay for the famous plaid ensembles.
The Breakfast Club
The John Hughes masterpiece from 1985 is a must-see. The Brat Pack stars five high school teenagers who explore significant issues like identity, prejudices, and love in a single day of Saturday detention.
Any film that gets its holiday is legendary in and of itself (ICYMI, October 3 is Mean Girls Day). Tina Fey’s 2004 comedy addresses high school drama, bullying, and romance and transports us to Lindsay Lohan’s glory days before she bought her club in Greece.
John Tucker Must Die
John Tucker Must Die is a teen love story in which three girls discover that high school basketball star John Tucker is dating all of them simultaneously, and they join together to bring him down. After a series of pranks fail, they seek the help of a classmate to lead him on and shatter his heart.
Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, released in 1998, starring Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer, an underachieving, overzealous high school student who befriends the affluent father of two of his classmates, played by Bill Murray, before falling out with him over the love of a fresh young instructor.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The classic John Hughes movie, a high school comedy, stars Matthew Broderick as the title character, who spends a wild day playing hooky with his girlfriend and a closest buddy around Chicago.
Baby (Jennifer Grey) falls for the resort’s renegade dancing instructor (Patrick Swayze) against her father’s wishes while on vacation with her parents. And just a reminder: you can watch this movie without doing the dances at home.
The 2007 film starring Elliot Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Allison Janney, and J. K. Simmons explores teenage pregnancy, adoption, and love with compassion and laughter.
Bring It On
Torrance Shipman, played by Kirsten Dunst, walked so Gabi Butler could run. Bring It On is the ultimate cheering film, complete with rivalries, romance, and a lot of frenetic dancing.
Heathers, an exceedingly dark 1988 picture starring Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer, becomes entangled in a series of brutal killings after falling for the enigmatic new boy in school, J.D. (Christian Slater). The cult film has spawned a musical and a TV series offshoot.
The timeless classic starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as star-crossed adolescent lovers Danny and Sandy never get old. Bring out your old leather jacket. We know you know how to dance.
Greta Gerwig’s 2017 coming-of-age drama, starring Saoirse Ronan, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, and Timothee Chalamet, is a humorous and moving modern masterpiece. It follows “Lady Bird” as she yearns for adventure while dealing with Catholic high school, college applications, and her first romance.
Love, Simon is a heartfelt 2018 adolescent rom-com about Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a closeted high schooler who falls in love over email with an anonymous classmate. When another student discovers the emails and begins blackmailing Simon, he is forced to confront uncomfortable truths about his friends, family, and identity.
The teen comedy by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg inspired a generation of awful false IDs. The bawdy and funny story of a terrible night out catapulted the careers of Emma Stone and Jonah Hill in the 2000s.
Booksmart, Olivia Wilde’s 2019 coming-of-age comedy, starring Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as high school seniors who suddenly regret their bookishness throughout high school and set out to make amends on their last day of classes. Before the two graduate and part ways, they have a crazy day of rule-breaking, partying, and self-discovery.
The Last Picture Show
Peter Bogdanovich’s Academy Award-winning The Last Picture Show is a coming-of-age film classic. Sonny (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane (Jeff Bridges) are two high school seniors contemplating their futures in their little, dying Texas town in 1951.
The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give is centered on Angie Thomas’ novel of the same name and follows the life of 16-year-old Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) at the end of her childhood friend’s killing by a police officer.
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a humorous, refreshing look at American teen life in the 1980s, based on his experience going undercover as a student at a California high school. It’s also a cultural touchstone, having aided the careers of Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, and Sean Penn.
Blockers is a lighthearted, sympathetic, and feminist take on a familiar high school movie trope: the prom night sex contract. When their daughters swear to have sex for the first time on prom night, three parents (Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, and John Cena) go to great lengths to prevent it.
Dazed and Confused
A summer night in a Texas hamlet is chronicled in Richard Linklater’s high school stoner comedy, with the seniors hazing the freshmen and everyone partying at the moon tower. Randall ‘Pink’ Floyd is pushed to choose between his football team and the freedom to be his true self. Okay, alright, alright.