From Clueless to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, it’s hard to choose the best teenage movies ever. Since the first teen comedies and dramas in the 1910s, there have been so many incredible teenage movies that have captured the high school experience to the T. From teenage romances to coming-of-age films, the best teenage movies ever run the gamut.
So what makes a film one of the best teenage movies? Well, for one, they have to feature characters who are, well, teens. In that same vein, most of the best teenage movies center on issues that teens face: bullying, dating, insecurities, college, embarrassing parents, you name it. But, for us, the best teenage movies don’t only deal with these issues, but they portray them in a way that’s both hilarious and thoughtful. At the end of each of the best teenage movies, there’s always a lesson that the main character learns about themselves. Perhaps they undervalued a friend in their life (like in Booksmart) or they prioritized popularity over anything else (like in Mean Girls.)
The best teenage movies are not only fun to watch, but they have a moral that all teens—and adults—can take away.That said, here is our list.
No list of the best teenage movies ever is complete without Clueless. The film, which was a modern reimagining of Jane Austen’s Emma, was Alicia Silverstone’s breakout role. The movie centered on a teenager named Cher Horowitz, a beautiful, clever and rich high school student who befriends Tai Frasier, a new student at her school, whom she decides to give a makeover to.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, based on the novel of the same title by Jenny Han, became an internet obsession when it premiered in 2018. The film stars Lana Condor as Lara Jean Covey, a teenage girl who’s written love letters to her crushes her whole life, with no plan of sending them. Her world is turned upside down when her letters are secretly sent out by her younger sister. Though it only came out a couple years ago, we consider it one of the best teenage movies ever.
The Kissing Booth (2018)
The Kissing Booth, which released its sequel in July 2020, stars Joey King as teenage girl named Elle who has a crush on her best friend Lee’s older brother Noah. When Noah and Elle start a secret relationship, Elle must keep it a secret from Lee, as she would be breaking the sacred rules they created when they were kids.
Booksmart, directed by Olivia Wilde, stars Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever as two high school seniors who feel like they haven’t experienced the typical high school experience before they leave for college. The film follows the best friends as they attend different wild parties hosted by their classmates and get into more trouble than they’ve experienced in their lives.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on Steven Chbosky’s novel of the same name, is a coming-of-age film about a teenage named Charlie and his struggle with depression and anxiety. The film, which is considered one of the best teenage movies ever, follows Charlie throughout his first year of high school.
High School Musical (2006)
High School Musical is a classic and deserves a spot on anyone’s list of the best teenage movies ever. The film, which made the careers of stars like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, follows two high school students—a shy scholastic decathlon team member and a popular basketball-playing jock—who meet on New Year’s Eve and fall in love through music.
Love, Simon (2018)
Love, Simon, based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, follows a closeted high school student named Simon who meets and falls for an anonymous gay classmate online. As Simon continues to chat with his anonymous pen pal, he’s also blackmailed by another student, threatening to out him to the whole school.
Five Feet Apart (2019)
Five Feet Apart stars Haley Lu Richardson as Stella, a teenage cystic fibrosis patient, who meets another CF patient named Will (Cole Sprouse.) Without the hospital staff knowing, the two start to date in secret, but their relationship is threatened when their romance is revealed and the nurses do everything to keep them apart for their own health.
Eighth Grade (2018)
Eighth Grade stars newcomer Elsie Fisher as a middle school student named Kayla who struggles with anxiety but wants to gain social acceptance from her classmates during the final week of her eighth grade year. To deal with her anxiety, Kayla publishes video blogs as a motivational-style speaker.
Mean Girls (2004)
Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey, is regarded as one of the best teenage movies ever and continues to be popular a decade after its release. The film stars Lindsay Lohan as Cady, a new student from Africa, who’s thrown into the lion’s den of mean girls and bullies. On her first day of school, Cady befriends Regina George, the most popular girl in school, and her posse. While she’s happy to be surrounded in the cool crowd at first, Cady realizes that popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
10 Things I Hate About You is a modernization of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The movie, set in the late ’90s, follows a new student named Cameron who becomes smitten with another classmate, Olivia, and must find a solution to convince Olivia’s strict father to allow him to date her. And so he comes up with a plan to have bad boy Patrick date Biance’s sister.
Easy A (2010)
Easy A, considered one of Emma Stone’s breakout role, is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlett Letter. The film stars Stone as Olive, a high school student, who agrees to tell her school that she had sex with gay student Brandon so students would stop bullying him because of his sexuality. Olive is then asked by other students to fulfill the same request.
She’s All That (1999)
She’s All that is a modern adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion and George Cukor’s film My Fair Lady. IT was considered one of the best teenage movies in the ’90s and reached number one at the box office in its first week. The film stars Freddie Prize Jr. as Zach, a popular high school student who becomes unpopular when his cheerleader girlfriend leaves him for a reality TV star.
Bring It On (2000)
Bring It On, which was a breakout movie for Gabrielle Union, follows the captain of a cheerleading squad in San Diego who learns that her team’s choreography routine was stolen by an opposing squad that’s led by a former member of her team.
A Cinderella Story (2004)
A Cinderella Story is a modern remake of the fairytale Cinderella starring Hillary Duff. The film follows Sam, an unpopular high school student whose stepmother and stepsisters make her life miserable, who falls for another student online and plans to meet him in person at her high school’s Halloween dance.
A Walk to Remember (2002)
A Walk to Remember, based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name, follows a jade high school senior who falls in love with the local minister’s daughter, who reveals to him that she was diagnosed with leukemia.
The Princess Diaries (2001)
The Princess Diaries stars Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, a teenager from San Francisco who learns that she’s the heir to the throne of a European kingdom when her estranged grandmother and the kingdom’s reigning queen, played by Julia Andrews, comes knocking to tell her about her real background.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, based on the Ann Brashare’s novel of the same name, follows four friends—Tibby, Lena, Carmen and Bridget—as they spend their summers apart and send a magical pair of jeans that fit all of them to each other with letters about their vacations.
Grease, which made John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, follows a greaser named Danny who develops an attraction to Australian transfer student Sandy and tries to woo her. The movie musical, based on the Broadway show of the same title, was nominated for an Oscar and originated songs like “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”
The DUFF (2015)
The DUFF stars Mae Whitman as high school senior Bianca, who learns that her classmates have been secretly referring to her as the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), which leads her to want to reinvent herself with the help of Welsey, a charming jock.
Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird, which earned Saoirse Ronan an Oscar nomination in 2018, follows a Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson, a teenager from Sacramento, California, who has dreams of moving to New York City. The film follows Christine in her senior year of high school as she navigates her strained relationship with her mother.
The Half of It (2020)
The Half of It follows a teenage student named Ellie Chu in a small town in Washington. One day, Ellie, who writes essays for other students for money, is hired by jock Paul to write a love letter to his crush, Astrid, who also happens to be Ellie’s crush. The dynamic creates an awkward love triangle between Astrid, Ellie and Paul, who’s unaware that his friend is in love with the same girl he is.
The Edge of Seventeen (2016)
The Edge of Seventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld as a high school junior whose friendship with her best friend Krista falls apart when she starts to date her older brother Daren.
The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s novel of the same name, tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, a 16-year-old girl who’s been battling cancer for the past three years. The film follows Hazel’s relationship with Gus Waters, a 17-year-old boy who’s now in remission for a tumor he once had in his leg.
Juno, which earned Ellen Page an Oscar nomination in 2008, follows a teenage girl named Juno who becomes unexpectedly pregnant by her boyfriend and must navigate the pressures of adulthood after she decides not to keep her baby and to give it up for adoption.
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