What is it about teen movies that make them so very bingeable?
Maybe it’s how reassuringly repetitive they are. (Unrequited love? Check. Evil principal? Check. New slash misunderstood kid at school who ultimately subverts the status quo? Check check.)
For all their tropes and repetition — not to mention interesting (read: adults as 16-year-olds) casting choices — the equation for classic teen movies is a formula that just keeps giving. And thankfully, the best teen movies coming out today are a lot more diverse and inclusive than, say, the whitewashed John Hughes universes of the past.
Whether you’re picking a sleepover movie with pals or in need of a solid solo-time-and-sweatpants flick, we’ve rounded up some of the best movies for teenagers that center teen narratives authentically. From ultra-relatable high school movies and offbeat cult classics to powerful dramas and teen romance movies that perfect the genre, you’re bound to find something you’ll want to stream, stat. In fact, we’re considering this a list of the best teen movies of all time.
Lady Bird (2017)
Lady Bird shines a spotlight on the life of Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), specifically her senior year of high school at a private Catholic school. Her childhood memories center around the family barely getting by financially, in part due to her father (Larry) being laid off and her mother (Marion) taking extra shifts at a psychiatric hospital as a counselor. In a crowded home where her brother Miguel and his girlfriend Shelly also live, Christine dreams of a different life. This movie digs into the at-times rocky relationship between parent and teenage daughter and the growth that can come from the struggle.
Where to stream it: Apple TV
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things (2021)
When it comes to teenage movies that speak to the chaos of growing up, The Map of Tiny Perfect Things tackles the topic of young love with an unexpected sci-fi twist. It all kicks off centered around Mark, a teen stuck in a time loop wasting time away righting wrongs and replaying games with his best friend. Once things start getting a bit monotonous, he realizes another person — a fellow teen named Margaret — is also trapped in the loop. As you can imagine, puppy love and adventures follow.