My professor always says that young adults are the best equipped to make good movies because we are living great coming of age stories. I decided to dedicate this FSC to my favorite coming-of-age stories. This list could easily be retitled “A Short List of My Favorite Movies Of All Time” because I think these stories of youth, innocence, discovery, and self-love are some of the most important ones to be told. Films like these make you believe in people and yourself. They make you feel like you are part of something both small and big. Most importantly they remind you that you are not alone. Here’s to movies that understand what it’s like to be young:
This is Wes Anderson’s second film and it is based on his own experience in private school. We studied this one in class because it is one of Anderson’s most humble productions yet does not lack his trademark attention to detail. It follows the ambitious Max Fischer as he learns about love and friendship. You can’t help but smile throughout the whole movie. We are Max, Max is us.
This is the story I wish I lived. It’s a road trip story about an aspiring journalist, a band, and the ethereal Penny Lane. It is about power, fame, and growing up too fast. Beautiful and underrated, this film should be on everyone’s watchlist. The soundtrack is amazing and the costumes are even better. If it doesn’t leave you itching to go on tour with a up and coming rock band, I don’t know what will.
The Breakfast Club
John Hughes said “People forget that when you’re 16, you’re probably more serious than you’ll ever be again. You think seriously about the big questions.” Hughes is the master of giving teenagers the credit they deserve. This is true of pretty much all his movies, but nothing beats Breakfast Club. I remember watching this for the first time and falling in love immediately. It’s the perfect portrait of the best and worst parts of being a teenager.
This movie made me want to go to film school. It is expertly crafted and written and it’s such an original narrative. It is a twist on both the story of the Virgin Mary and of Adam and Eve. It tells the story of Rachel, who was raised in a Mormon community, and her quest to find a father to her child. I can’t describe how much this film speaks to me visually. It is the most beautiful fall from heaven I’ve ever seen.
Edge of Seventeen
This is the most recent movie yet, but we also studied this in class. I remember my friend telling me to go see this movie because she felt she had never related to a movie more in her life. The story of Nadine, played by Hailee Steinfeld, is one that anyone who went through high school can relate to. It externalizes that irrational feeling we have when we think that everyone is against us and nothing is going to get better. But it also shows that it always gets better, even when it seems impossible.
Perks of Being A Wallflower
Most everyone has seen this movie, but I couldn’t exclude it from this list. The cast is amazing and the story is even better. It is a beautiful collection of all the terrifying things that we go through in high school: making friends, falling in love, losing friends, applying for college, etc. This will forever be an anthem for wallflowers everywhere.
This movie is renowned for its screenplay, but I think it should be praised for everything. Costumes, music, dialogue, plus Ellen Page AND Michael Cera. What more could you ask for? If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it now. No narrative about teenage pregnancy will ever live up to this melancholy masterpiece.
I watched this on Netflix a few months ago and fell in love. It combines 80’s fashion and Irish accents so it’s really everything I’ve ever wanted. Think Skins and Freaks and Geeks, but set in Dublin. It’s a classic boy meets girl story, but out of it comes a garage band. This film is optimistic and original. If you’ve ever wanted to be in an 80s music video, you must watch Sing Street.
I am in love with Jack Kilmer. I love other parts of this movie too, but I needed to lead with that. This film is based on true stories from James Franco’s youth. It is the perfect depiction of teenage boredom and stagnancy. It’s a good film to watch when you’re feeling a bit lost. After you watch the film, watch the behind the scenes footage on Youtube filmed by the director’s mother. It is a coming of age story within itself.
I just saw this movie last week and I left the theater buzzing. It tells the age-old story of deciding what to do after high school and navigating your way through parents, guidance counselors, and financial aid. It could have been cliche yet it is anything but. Saoirse Ronan does an amazing job of making Lady Bird every teenage girl, yet completely unique. The dialogue is perfect and the story is unapologetically honest. Go see this film on the big screen if you can.
Megan is studying film at New York University and is planning on going into screenwriting. She is a big believer in dessert, 80s movies, the Beatles, and naps. She spends most of her time seeking out vegan cafes, thrift shopping, and taking photos.
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