There’s something special about the teen movie. Whether it’s a coming-of-age drama, a high school romantic comedy, or an edgy horror flick, teen movies capture the angst and excitement of adolescence in a way that no other genre can. With that in mind, here are ten of the best teen movies.
The teenage years are a time of exploration and discovery, and the best teen movies capture this unique moment in life.
The Best Teenage Movies of All Time
Below are the best teen movies that all generations can enjoy.
1. Easy A (2010)
Emma Stone stars in this modern take on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In Easy A, Stone plays Olive, a high school student who fabricates a wild story about losing her virginity to gain the attention and admiration of her peers. But when things spiral out of control, Olive must figure out how to make things right. Easy A is a heartfelt and hilarious look at friendship, growing up, and the myths surrounding teenage relationships.
2. Breakfast Club (1985)
John Hughes’s classic movie about five high schoolers forced together for Saturday detention is considered one of the greatest teen movies ever made. It stars Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, and Ally Sheedy as they understand each other better throughout their detention. There was a new era of teen movies with the 1985 film, which inspired countless other teen movies.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
“There’s a difference between like and love. Because I like my Sketchers, but I love my Prada backpack.” If Shakespeare himself wrote teen comedies, he couldn’t come up with lines this good – but screenwriters Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith managed it in their ’90s redo of The Taming Of The Shrew.
Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern retelling of one of literature’s most enduring stories. Featuring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger as two teenagers who must overcome their differences to find true love, it’s a heartwarming film that captures the joys and struggles of young love.
4. Mean Girls (2004)
Written by Tina Fey and starring Lindsay Lohan, Mean Girls is one part social satire and one part cringe comedy about life as an adolescent outsider trying to navigate the treacherous waters of high school cliques. It has become an anthem for teenage misfits everywhere since its release in 2004.
Tina Fey’s cult classic follows Cady as she navigates the mean girls’ clique in her high school drama. It’s funny, original, and painfully accurate to the realities of teen life.
5. The First Time(2012)
Starring the internet’s current boyfriend, Dylan O’Brien, The First Time chronicles one weekend during which O’Brien’s Dave —a high school senior who’s in love with his longtime friend Jane — meets junior Aubrey (Britt Robertson) at a party. The pair, both contemplating their romantic prospects, have an instant connection, and viewers get to watch as they fall in love for the first time.
6. The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl follows Minnie as she navigates the complexities of teenage sexuality. It’s an honest and unflinching look at the highs and lows of teenage life.
7. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
Growing up is hard. And being 17 is considerably more complex when you have a famous older brother who you hate, social anxiety, a mom who doesn’t get it, and a best friend who is drifting apart. Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a high school student, finds herself in this situation when her BFF and brother begin dating, leaving her to traverse the precipice of adulthood.
8. Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird wants to escape her life on the west coast and travel east. She’s deep in the middle of her teenage rebellion and trying to find herself by avoiding Catholic school and breaking away from her mom. But amidst all this, she learns more about herself than she planned.
9. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Spider-Man movie has wholly captured the heroic high-schooler nature that makes Spider-Man a unique comic book character like Homecoming. Tom Holland is by far the most convincingly young Peter Parker. Despite his lack of torture, he struggles to balance his superhuman dreams with his community responsibilities, academic work, and mushy emotions. Homecoming, directed by Jon Watts, was greatly influenced by John Hughes, and it shows. However, it also advances the teen movie genre by moving past tired clique-based clichés.
10. To All The Boys I Loved Before (2018)
This Netflix original follows Lara Jean Covey as she deals with the aftermath of her secret love letters sent. It’s an adorable coming-of-age story about first love and finding yourself.
11. Kissing Booth (2018)
The Kissing Booth is a teen film classic: the shy girl falls for the bad boy. Elle Evans has had a crush on her best friend’s brother since the first grade, but it seems impossible that he’d ever be interested in her. That is until she signs up for a kissing booth at the school carnival, and sparks fly. It’s an age-old tale about young romance set to a modern soundtrack, sure to leave viewers swooning.
12. Booksmart (2019)
Booksmart is a unique take on the classic teenage coming-of-age movie. It stars Kaitlyn Dever as Amy and Beanie Feldstein as Molly, two high schoolers who realize on the eve of their graduation that they’ve spent too much time studying and not enough time partying. They decide to make up for the lost time by cramming four years of partying into one night, and the result is a hilarious and heartwarming story of friendship. Booksmart is an ode to teenage misadventures, reinforcing that it’s never too late to make up for lost time.
It takes a lot of courage to make a movie about teenagers. A coming-of-age story can evoke powerful emotions, many of which are first-hand experiences. However, these films must also successfully capture the voice of a teen. Most filmmakers are well over their high school years, so this is no small accomplishment.
No matter what kind of great teen movie you’re in the mood for, there’s sure to be something here that will satisfy your cravings. From comedy to drama, these movies capture the essence of being a teenager and give us some insight into the joys and heartaches that come with it. Whether you’re looking for a good laugh or touching moments, these are the best teen movies.