Along with embracing my love for film at full-throttle throughout this decade, I also lived through the majority of my teenage years this decade. Within that, came the discovery of my favorite genre of film, the coming-of-age flick. So, without further ado allow me to present to you my favorite coming-of-age films of this decade.
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):
- 21/22 Jump Street (2012/2014)
- Blockers (2018)
- Chronicle (2012)
- Dope (2015)
- Eighth Grade (2018)
- Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
- The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
- The Florida Project (2017)
- The Goldfinch (2019)
- Good Boys (2019)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 (2010/2011)
- Inside Out (2015)
- Lean on Pete (2018)
- Love, Simon (2018)
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)
- Mommy (2014)
- Monsters University (2013)
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
- Ready Player One (2018)
- The Social Network (2010)
- The Spectacular Now (2013)
- Spider-Man: Homecoming/ Far From Home (2017/2019)
- Spring Breakers (2012)
- Super 8 (2011)
- Thoroughbreds (2018)
- The Tree of Life (2011)
10. Moonlight (2016)
The best picture winner of that year! What hasn’t been said about Moonlight already? Barry Jenkins’ deeply personal examination about identity, black culture, toxic masculinity, family, abuse, drugs, and more are all wrapped up in an absolutely stunning mosaic of a man’s upbringing. This one also holds a personal connection to me now more than ever as I had to write an essay on it for my first university film exam!
9. Mid90s (2018)
I was so excited about Jonah Hill’s directorial debut and Mid90s did not disappoint. Again, a deeply personal look at what Jonah Hill interprets as his childhood is a heartwarming, realistic and tough to watch the film. I specifically love Jonah’s 16mm celluloid and 4:3 aspect ratio aesthetic for this film, and its deep-cut soundtrack that clearly comes from his personal collection. The first of the few films on this list I saw during one of my visits to TIFF.
The third A24 coming-of-age movie in a row? Must be the 2010s. Again, a lot has been said about Lady Bird. What’s so special about this film is just how kind it is. Every character in this film (for the most part except goddamn Kyle) has such a kind heart and truly cares about the people within the world around them. Lady Bird is an absolutely layered character who perfectly encapsulates the frustrations we all face as teens. The dynamic between Lady Bird and her mother is some of the most relatable stuff put to film, and that’s thanks to Greta Gerwig’s wonderful script and Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf’s exceptional chemistry. Seeing this during a late-night TIFF screening after everyone’s first reactions were already out in the world was quite the fun experience. This film also served as a breakout performance for one of it’s supporting actresses which later got her the lead role in a film further up on this list.
7. Vox Lux (2018)
My first but not final controversial pick on this list. Vox Lux can be called many things, and many genres yet coming-of-age might be a stretch to some. Saying that, when you boil this film down, the first half of it is genuinely about Celeste’s coming of age. The first chapter of this film that follows it’s incredibly haunting, violent and disturbing prologue completely stuck out upon my first viewing, and surprisingly enough I’ve loved this weird, dark film more and more after every rewatch. Raffey Cassidy also gives a stunning performance here and completely deserves to be a bigger deal than she currently is. I’m imagining if there’s only one film on this list any of you reading this haven’t seen, it’s this one. It’s on Netflix!
6. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
I love how Spider-Verse completely fits into the coming-of-age category. If anything, it’s a middle-school movie first and foremost before it’s a superhero film. Moving aside the masterful direction and comic-book aesthetic this film goes for, at the end of the day the reason I love this one as much is because of how it makes me feel. The emotional journey Miles live through within this film is one that’s surprisingly relatable, throughout his densely written character. Every aspect of every character he has a relationship with builds upon his character in such a way most other teen-movies wish they could pull off. I really hope Miles and Gwen end up together in the sequel!
5. The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
I could not have seen The Edge of Seventeen at a better time in my life than at the beginning of my Grade 10 year. Yes, this movie is hilarious and heartwarming and kind, but it also tackles teen mental illness and depression in a way no other film seems to venture out within. I was at a completely similar stage in my life as Nadine when I saw this film and it changed me for the better. Her monologue during the climax of the film when she speaks to her brother makes me tear up every damn time. God bless Hailee Steinfeld.
4. Call Me By Your Name (2017)
Funny enough, now looking at it, every film on this list came into my life at the perfect time. Call Me By Your Name is my favorite love story put to film. This plot-less hangout movie takes its time before its two lovers ever make a move on each other. I know for a fact how moving and important this film was for the LGBTQ+ community, and adore how applicable this queer love story is to any person who’s ever been in love before. I have to stan Jewish representation when I see it.
3. Euphoria (2019)
Uh oh, another controversial pick on this list. Yes, Euphoria an 8-episode season of a television show that’s been renewed for a second season. Does it seem like that matters to me though? Euphoria has such a consistently beautiful approach to its filmmaking throughout its first season’s roughly 8-hour running time. It tackles such real issues within teens nowadays and isn’t afraid to hold back on showing you anything. Thanks to the freedom that comes with being on HBO, this series’ ability to have graphic sex, violence and drug use makes it one of the most entertaining, real, and emotional stories put to screen. It also has an absolutely unreal soundtrack. Zendaya delivers what has to be one of the greatest teenage performances in my life, and I was truly blown away when I heard she’s allegedly never tried a drug in her life (as she plays a 16-year-old drug addict). Easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and within that, one of the best coming-of-age films of the decade.
2. Booksmart (2019)
I really don’t mean to put myself on a high pedestal here, but do you know how cool it felt to finally have a high school movie made about *the good kids*!? Booksmart is truly lovely within every sense of it. Seeing this film about two grade 12 students’ final day of high school a mere month before my own final day of high school was easily one of the coolest cinema-going experiences of my life. Olivia Wilde injects a creatively expressive, original, raunchy direction to this high school film that is probably the most fun 105 minutes one could possibly have with a film. I am in a lifelong friendship very similar to Amy and Molly’s, so seeing that level of friendship on the big screen was just perfect, and so is this movie. Another fantastic soundtrack too.
1. Boyhood (2014)
Straight-up, I wouldn’t be typing this list if I hadn’t seen Boyhood when I did back in 2014. I’d say how deeply personal this film is to me, but how could this film not be deeply personal to any person over the age of 6? This film works, because it does such a damn perfect job of portraying life. I love how this film has no story, if it did, it would have ruined it. The way how Linklater essentially wrote each chapter of this film throughout the twelve years it took to shoot it works exceptionally well because it has no real cohesion, and neither does life. With every rewatch, I always take something different away from it because I’d already been at such a drastically different time in my life than during my previous watch. Boyhood is by definition, perfect. It’s tied for my favorite movie of all time (and would get an inch over Scott Pilgrim vs. The World if I had to choose only one film to bring to a deserted island with me).
Did I miss anything here? Is there anything on this list you hadn’t seen until you read this and checked out because of it? Let me know in the comments below.