Must List

4 coming-of-age movies every teen needs to watch

Entering a new stage of your life? Reflecting on your teenage years, relationships and personal growth? You may be in serious need of an iconic coming-of-age teen movie. Seniors in high school, we're talking to you.

Coming-of-age films typically follow teenage protagonists through their journeys of self-growth, identity, love and relationships. We've rounded up four acclaimed coming-of-age movies (all with their own distinctive, quirky characters) that you *need* to watch before graduating high school—trust us.

Lady Bird (2017)

Christine MacPherson is a feisty California high school senior with pink hair, an attitude and a strained relationship with her mom—and did we forget to mention that she gave herself the name "Lady Bird"? Set in the early 2000s, this wonderfully quirky film follows Lady Bird through her senior year mishaps, boy troubles and desire to leave Sacramento. High school seniors will especially appreciate Lady Bird for its portrayal of the relatable, complex emotions that accompany being on the brink of adulthood. Plus, the witty banter among friends and arguments between Lady Bird and her mother def make it worth the re-watch.

Content warnings: Language, brief sexual content, some underage drinking and smoking

Eighth Grade (2018)

Eighth Grade is, ironically, best watched a couple years after you graduate eighth grade. Director Bo Burnham aimed to portray the good, the bad, the ugly (and the awkward) of eighth grade in a legitmately *realistic* way; actual eighth graders were casted and asked for their input in the production of the movie. This film tells the story of middle schooler Kayla and her struggles with anxiety, social media, sexuality, identity and fitting in. You'll notice that you can see Kayla's natural acne unfiltered on screen, and that's intentional. Eighth Grade isn't afraid to show ~all~ of the awkwardness and realities that come with being fourteen.

Content warnings: Language, sexual harassment 

The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

Imagine your best friend and your older brother get together. This is seventeen-year-old Nadine's horrifying situation in The Edge of Seventeen—and she isn't happy about it. Nadine brings all the teenage angst as she lashes out at her friends and family. Even if you internally groan at some of Nadine's actions, in the end, her emotions and struggles are painfully relatable to pretty much all teens.

Content warnings: Language, sexual content, sexual harassment, some underage drinking

Booksmart (2019)

The lovable protagonists of Booksmart, high school seniors (and best friends) Amy and Molly, have spent their last four years working for academic accomplishments to get into their dream college. But just before graduation, they're in for a rude awakening: the other students they perceived as "slackers" and "partiers" have also gotten into prestigious schools while *still* having fun in high school. Determined to shed their "teacher's pet" reputations and finally enjoy themselves, Amy and Molly set out to attend a graduation party...and end up testing their friendship, making relationships and stealing a pizza delivery car along the way.

Content warnings: Language, sexual content, underage drinking and drug use

Searching for more movie recs? We got you:
🍿 4 reasons to binge every Marvel movie rn
🍿 An unofficial ranking of every single Harry Potter movie
🍿 10 throwback movies with the best summer vibes

What's your fave coming-of-age film? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag!

All GIFs via GIPHY | Slider image: @theedgeofseventeen


by Jinny Kim | 4/22/2022