The teenage years are a strange time. You’re stuck in this gap between childhood and adulthood, reconciling the end of innocence with the beginning of independence. Suddenly you’re too old for some things, but too young for so much. You’re trying to “find yourself,” whatever that means. It’s a time many of us wouldn’t relive if somebody paid us—but it’s precisely that chaotic push-and-pull of adolescence that makes it a prime source of inspiration for storytellers.
The coming-of-age genre has been around for hundreds of years in literature, known as “Bildungsroman” since the early 19th century. Though not everyone’s genre of choice, movies about teenage life often tell funny, heartfelt stories about growing up that audiences of all ages can appreciate. Luckily, Netflix has a good selection of teen movies to check out if you ever find yourself feeling a bit nostalgic for that weird, scary, exciting time in your life. From Greta Gerwig’s critically acclaimed dramedy Lady Bird to the raunchy comedy Superbad, to time-loop drama Before I Fall, here are ten of the best teen movies to stream on Netflix right now.
Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical solo directorial debut was one of the best movies of 2017. It follows “Lady Bird” (Saoirse Ronan), a senior at a Catholic girls school in early 2000s Sacramento, as she navigates her relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) and her dreams for her future. Plus: Timothée Chalamet as the archetypal indie softboy who’ll break your heart.
Superbad is a modern comedy classic. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s movie is a genuinely fresh and funny take on the the coming-of-age subgenre of “let’s lose our virginity before the end of high school.”
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
In Stephen Chbosky’s drama, a socially awkward loner (Logan Lerman) befriends two free-spirited older kids (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) who open him up to the world of music, friendship, and love.
Can’t Hardly Wait
Can’t Hardly Wait is the like the cool older cousin of Superbad and Booksmart. Years worth of dreams and expectations play out over the course of a high school graduation party, as the characters seek love, closure, and (of course) sex. Featuring Jason Segel in a pre-Freaks and Geeks cameo, the kid from Hook, Seth Green, Melissa Joan Hart and more ’90s stars.
20th Century Women
Dorothea, a free-spirited single mother in her 50s, enlists the help of two friends to guide her son Jamie as he navigates his adolescence in 1979 Santa Barbara. Starring Greta Gerwig as Dorothea’s pink-haired punk photographer tenant and Elle Fanning as Jamie’s troubled friend 20th Century Women is a tender tale about manhood and the women who raise us.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
It’s a setup we’ve seen before: a pretend relationship turns real. But don’t be fooled. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is actually very good, full of funny and sincere moments that will satisfy any rom-com cynic. You might even find yourself watching the two sequels, (also on Netflix).
Yes, God, Yes
As sweet and funny as Lady Bird, but a little wackier and sex-focused. Yes, God, Yes follows a Catholic school girl (Stranger Things’s Natalia Dyer) as she explores her sexuality after an innocent AOL chat turns racy.
Before I Fall
If you’re feeling teen movie/supernatural Groundhog Day vibe, Before I Fall is the one for you. A popular teenage girl is killed in a car crash after a party, only to wake up the next morning stuck in the same day over and over again. Will she see the error of her mean ways and break free of the loop?
The Half of It
Teenage outcast Ellie Chu’s life takes a turn when Paul—a goofy but well-meaning jock—hires her to write love letters to his crush Aster. Could Ellie be falling for Aster herself? This queer teen rom-com is equal parts cheesy, refreshing, and heartwarming.
The Kissing Booth
Ah, The Kissing Booth. Netflix’s beloved smash franchise finds Joey King and Jacob Elordi (Euphoria) in a forbidden high school romance. Award-winning? Perhaps not. Entertaining enough? One hundred percent.
Anna Grace Lee
Anna Grace Lee is an editorial fellow at Esquire, where she covers pop culture, music, and entertainment.
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