20+ of the Best Coming of Age Movies Ever

  • 1

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986


    Direction: John Hughes
    Starring: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, and Mia Sara
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 80%
    Runtime: 103 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Netflix, Prime Video

    In this seminal coming-of-age classic, Ferris Bueller seems to have life pretty figured out. He wants a day off from school, and nothing is going to stop him—not even principal Rooney. Ferris understands that helping his best friend gain some self-esteem is worlds more important than obeying tyrannical grown-ups. In Ferris Bueller's own words: "Life goes by so fast, that if you don't stop and look around, you might miss it."

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  • 2

    The 400 Blows, 1959


    Direction: François Truffaut
    Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
    Runtime: 93 minutes
    Where to watch: Criterion Channel, HBO Max

    François Truffaut's timeless first film is a masterful and moving portrait of boyhood. Neglected by his struggling parents and treated like a deviant by teachers, 14-year-old Antoine stumbles into a life of petty crime to cope with the despair of adolescence. Unlike the adults in his life who go out of their way to misunderstand him, we get to see Antoine in his most private moments, lighting candles for Balzac and enjoying films. We're on Antoine's side, which makes his misfortune all the more heartbreaking.

  • 3

    Boyz n the Hood, 1991

    Forehead - GREN SHAN

    Direction: John Singleton
    Starring: Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%
    Runtime: 112 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Boyz n the Hood is more than just a story about three childhood friends. Through the experiences of Ricky, Doughboy, and Tre, who grow up together in the Crenshaw neighborhood of Los Angeles, director John Singleton offers insight into how institutional racism creates violent conditions, particularly for young black men.

  • 4

    Superbad, 2007


    Direction: Greg Mottola
    Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%
    Runtime: 113 minutes
    Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV

    Ostensibly a slapstick tale of partying and trying to get laid, hidden beneath all the penis jokes is a moving story about relinquishing codependent relationships and blithe adolescence. Best friends Seth and Evan are played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, respectively—a brilliant casting decision that pays off in each of their scenes together. Maybe you'll keep in touch with your childhood friends, and maybe you'll grow apart. Superbad reassures us that everything will be alright.

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  • 5

    Carrie, 1976


    Direction: Brian de Palma
    Starring: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
    Runtime: 98 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    De Palma's Carrie is every awkward, uncool teenage girl's nightmare and revenge fantasy. It's impossible not to cringe and wince whenever the popular kids show Carrie a bit of kindness, because de Palma never lets us forget that it's all a sick ruse, carefully arranged by her sadistic schoolmates. Watching Carrie feels like a fever dream of adolescent pain and cruelty, until the final scenes violently shake you awake.

  • 6

    The Virgin Suicides, 1999

    People in nature

    Direction: Sofia Coppola
    Starring: Kirsten Dunst, James Woods, Kathleen Turner
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
    Runtime: 97 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    The journey from girlhood to womanhood is a messy and arduous path, and for the five sisters of The Virgin Suicides, growing up is made all the more difficult by pathologically repressive parents. A group of neighboring boys are fascinated by the girls next door, regarding them as if they were enigmatic, mythical creatures, their inaccessibility making them all the more desirable to the male gaze. Even when the ethereal fantasy comes to a tragic and violent halt, through the boys' eyes, the young girls remain an unknowable dream.

  • 7

    Stand By Me, 1986


    Direction: Rob Reiner
    Starring: Wil, Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell, Kiefer Sutherland, Casey Siemaszko
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
    Runtime: 89 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Four young friends hear about a dead boy in the woods and decide to investigate. Death is still just an abstract idea to these kids hanging on the cusp of adulthood—a means to an adventure. But when they find what they're looking for, the corpse of a young boy around their age, they open a door to all the ugliness and peril of the adult world.

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  • 8

    Boyhood, 2014


    Direction: Richard Linklater
    Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
    Runtime: 165 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    When Linklater revealed that he'd been working on Boyhood with the same actors for 12 years, the film was hyped to the point where expectations could have easily exceeded the result. Thankfully, watching Ellar Coltrane literally grow up on screen wasn't reduced to a cheap gimmick, like one of those viral timelapses of some YouTuber's face morphing through the years. Boyhood is not so much a 'slice of life,' but rather slices of a life—the simple life of a Texas boy and his family. Linklater pays respect to the universal experience of growing up by telling the story simply and without pretension.

  • 9

    Eighth Grade, 2018


    Direction: Bo Burnham
    Starring: Elsie Kate Fisher, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
    Runtime: 93 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Comedian Bo Burnham's debut feature masterfully sums up the perils of awkwardly navigating the dreaded eighth grade. Nodding to his own past as a child YouTuber, Burnham also offers an unexpected glimpse into the increasingly common experience of living a double life as a teenager—the 'IRL' life and the internetted life. 

  • 10

    Love & Basketball, 2000

    Flash photography

    Direction: Gina Prince-Bythewood
    Starring: Sanaa Lathan, Omar Epps
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
    Runtime: 124 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max

    Next-door neighbors Monica and Quincy grow up together in Los Angeles, bonded over a shared aspiration to become basketball stars. Their volatile friendship inevitably develops into a romance, but their relationship is repeatedly put to the test by external pressure and the professional challenges Monica faces in a world that prioritizes male athletes and discourages young women.

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  • 11

    Now and Then, 1995

    Shoe - AFTER HOUR Book Relurn HILLS

    Direction: Lesli Linka Glatter
    Starring: Christina Ricci, Thora Birch, Gaby Hoffmann, Ashleigh Aston Moore, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 30%
    Runtime: 96 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Largely rejected by film critics upon its release, Now and Then is beloved now more than ever by all the girls for whom the film was made, perhaps because it is an expression of girlhood through the eyes of girls—a perspective that was rarely explored in Hollywood at the time. The movie tells the story of four best friends, whose bond is sealed forever after one significant summer in 1970. 

  • 12

    Crooklyn, 1994


    Direction: Spike Lee
    Starring: Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, David Patrick Kelly
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
    Runtime: 112 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Crooklyn is at once a semi-autobiographical story about a working class family and a love letter to Brooklyn. Borrowing from his own formative experiences growing up in Fort Greene, Spike Lee paints a picture of a community that takes the time to understand and teach its children, rather than alienate them. 

  • 13

    Fish Tank, 2009


    Direction: Andrea Arnold
    Starring: Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
    Runtime: 124 minutes
    Where to watch: Prime Video, Apple TV

    Mia is a sad, unambitious 15-year-old girl, resigned to listlessly wandering the streets surrounding the Essex housing project in which she lives with her distant mother and young sister. Naive and unfamiliar with healthy love, Mia becomes infatuated with her mother's charming boyfriend, Connor, whose encouragement and emotional support turns toxic as they become closer.

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  • 14

    Clueless, 1995


    Direction: Amy Heckerling
    Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Stacey Dash, Brittany Murphy
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%
    Runtime: 97 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV, HBO Max

    High school student Cher Horowitz lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills, doesn't bother learning how to park (why would she when there are valets?) and negotiates her grades by matchmaking her teachers. She's no ordinary high schooler, and yet even this SoCal princess is capable of learning some valuable life lessons that guide her away from childish narcissism. 

  • 15

    Moonlight, 2016


    Direction: Barry Jenkins
    Starring: Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
    Runtime: 111 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Moonlight is a poignant journey from childhood to manhood through the character Chiron, a reserved, gentle boy growing up in Miami and struggling to find his place in a world fraught with violence. Through Chiron's experience, the movie makes its audience contemplate race, sexuality, masculinity, and poverty, and does so without using melodrama or clichés. The struggle Chiron experiences is normalized in his worldthere's no space in the film for hyperbole. In contrast, the most heartbreaking scenes are the ones where someone shows him love and compassion.

  • 16

    House of Hummingbird, 2018

    Facial expression

    Direction: Bora Kim
    Starring: Park Ji-hu, Kim Sae-Byeok, Jung In-gi
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
    Runtime: 138 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, Apple TV

    Unable to find emotional support at home, eighth grader Eun-Hee wanders Seoul in search of love, friendship, and meaning. In many coming-of-age films, there is a distinct, climactic moment that seems to fundamentally change the protagonist. House of Hummingbird is more of a subtle and nuanced portrait of an awkward teenager figuring out who they are. 

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  • 17

    This is England, 2006


    Direction: Shane Meadows
    Starring: Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley, Andrew Shim, Joseph Gilgun, Vicky McClure
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
    Runtime: 98 minutes
    Where to watch: Prime Video

    After the Falklands War claims 12-year-old Shaun's father, the troubled and impressionable young boy finds a surrogate family in a gang of motley skinheads. This is England emphasizes the violence and hatred that is born from poverty, and how easy it is for poor, fatherless youngsters to stumble down the wrong path. 

  • 18

    Cinema Paradiso, 1988

    Musician - Y BER 1800DOSD

    Direction: Giuseppe Tornatore
    Starring: Salvatore Cascio, Philippe Noiret, Marco Leonardi
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
    Runtime: 123 minutes
    Where to watch: Prime Video

    Salvatore, a successful film director living in Rome returns to the Sicilian village he grew up in to attend the funeral of Alfredo, his childhood mentor and the town's beloved projectionist at Cinema Paradiso. The story of Salvatore's childhood is told through a flashback dripping with nostalgia. Salvatore's pilgrimage home reminds him why he fell in love with movies as a young man.

  • 19

    The Graduate, 1967

    Flash photography

    Direction: Mike Nichols
    Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
    Runtime: 105 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV

    After completing college, Ben is a little worried about his future and exasperated by all the painfully dull adults pressuring him to make a decision. So he stumbles into an affair with the wife of his father's business partner and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine. Despite the fact that he is well into adulthood, Ben's messy journey of self-discovery is a classic coming-of-age story.

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  • 20

    City of God, 2002


    Direction: Fernando Meirelles
    Starring: Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 91%
    Runtime: 131 minutes
    Where to watch: Vudu, HBO Max, Apple TV

    In the lawless and kinetic favelas of Rio de Janeiro, two young men choose different life paths. Rocket, desperate to avoid a life of organized crime, pursues photography and documents life in the favela. Li'l Zé wants to build a drug empire in Cidade de Deus, and eventually uses Rocket's photos to build his reputation.

  • 21

    Fanny and Alexander, 1982


    Direction: Ingmar Bergman
    Starring: Pernilla Allwin, Bertil Guve, Erland Josephson
    Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
    Runtime: 188 minutes
    Where to watch: Prime Video, HBO Max, Apple TV

    The beautiful and surreal world of Fanny and Alexander is like watching events through a child's dream. But when the two children have to leave their idyllic family home after the tragic death of their father, they find that ghosts of the past haunt their abusive new stepfather's house. Through magical puppets and conversations with God, Alexander makes sense of the tragedy of their new life. Berman's story of childhood is like fragmented memories of a fairytale. 


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