Coming Of Age is all about growing up and finding yourself; whether it be befriended adults at a water park, running away from home to live in the woods or selling drugs at school, everyone has different ways of finding themselves. That’s why the coming of age genre never gets old as it still finds different stories to keep the audience interested. Watching teens (or sometimes adults) grow up on screen can be fun, depressing, exciting, shocking, heart-warming or sometimes even disturbing. All these different feelings are what make the Coming Of Age genre great… well also the young likeable characters, the engaging relationships, the interesting stories and the sweet moments.
So here is a massive list with 30 coming of age movies to watch from the year 2000 to 2016. I’ve also decided to rank the movies from my least favourite to most favourite. Regardless of their ranking, they are all good movies worthy of your time.
This coming of age film set in the summer of 1987 follows James Brennan who works at an amusement park where he receives painful and unforgettable learning experiences about love, life and trust. Adventureland is a sweet, enjoyable and simple coming of age with a stellar cast starring Jesse Eisenberg, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig & Kristen Stewart who all a gel together to craft a fun and easy to watch movie.
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Boyhood is like literally watching someone coming of age, this special film was filmed over 12 years using the same actor. It was an amazing experience watching Mason age from early childhood to his arrival at college. Boyhood is definitely a special coming of age film we just see Mason growing up, changing and maturing before our eyes while doing typical things other people of his age would do. Since this film took over a decade to make, you should definitely take 3 hours of your time to watch this extraordinary coming of age film.
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28. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
While most of the movies on this list show a male protagonist coming of age, as you can tell from the title, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl is from a female perspective. While living in 1970s San Francisco 15 year old Minnie finds herself and experiences her sexual awakening after sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend. Minnie embraces it, starts to crave more sex with her mother’s boyfriend and desires attention from him. This coming of age story is more than just another raunchy teen film, but has a deeper meaning as we follow Minnie on her journey of finding herself. This movie may be uncomfortable for some to watch, but it’s honest, unconventional and different which is why you should watch it.
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Lymelife is a coming of age film set in the 1970s era, about a teen Scott who is dealing with his parent’s failing marriage while fighting the love he has for his neighbour who only sees him as a little brother. What I like about Lymelife is that it’s real, sweet and relatable; we see how Scott’s brother’s influence and his parent’s failing marriage changes him and causes him to come of age.
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26. This Is England
Set in 1983 England, bullied 12 year old Shaun becomes friends with a gang of skinheads where he seems to fit in. With the influence of his new older friends, Shaun starts to mature and things seem to be going well. Until ex-gang leader Combo returns from prison and starts to corrupt Shaun and splits the gang apart. A coming of age which starts off sweet but turns shocking and disturbing, this film not only shows Shaun maturing but provides a horrifying look of life in 1980s England.
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Sometimes it’s not just teens that need to grow up, some adults too need to mature, Laggies is a great example of this. After her boyfriend proposes to her, 28 year old Megan decides to run away and live with her 16-year-old friend Annika and her single dad. Laggies is a funny and light-hearted coming of age film, we see Megan maturing and sorting her life out while staying with Annika. People may find this film to be average and simple but I really like it and think it’s worth a watch.
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24. Garden State
Written and directed by Zach Braff, A quietly troubled young man returns home for his mother’s funeral after being estranged from his family for a decade. Honestly there’s not much to Garden State except the likeable characters also the funny and sweet dialogue, but that’s what makes the movie so good. It’s simple, it’s funny and it’s sweet, the best part for me about this film is Natalie Portman’s portrayal of the quirky and cute Sam. Zach Braff and Natalie Portman’s strong on screen chemistry really carry this movie creating a special and heart-warming coming of age.
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23. Y Tu Mamá También
“Y Tu Mama Tambien” a sexy, funny and steamy coming of age film. In Mexico, two teenage boys and an attractive older woman embark on a road trip which will change them. Coming of age is about discovery, maturing and learning and that’s exactly what Y Tu Mama Tambien is. Julio, Tenoch and Luisa learn about life, friendship, sex and each other during their unforgettable road trip where they reveal secrets and engage in sexual activities. This foreign coming of age of film is one to watch.
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If you like quirky, unusual, unique and funny films, then Submarine is a coming of age movie you should definitely watch. 15-year-old Oliver Tate wants to lose his virginity and extinguish the flame between his mother and her ex-lover, who has moved in next door. Submarine is a simple yet unique coming of age purely because of its unusual directing. What I really love about this movie is that it’s honest, realistic and has two of the best characters I’ve seen in coming of age movies.
Full Review Here
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21. The Duff
The duff has many clichés, it’s quite predictable and it’s like many typical teen films, sometimes I wonder why I love this movie but I just do. The Duff is funny and includes a modern twist as it incorporates social media and today’s technology which makes it different to some teen films. What really elevates this movie are the charming leads and their great chemistry who are portrayed by Mae Whitman and Robbie Amell. Overall The Duff is a very fun film, which you should watch if you need a laugh.
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20. Super 8
A coming of age film with a sci-fi twist, during the summer of 1979, while making a movie a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. An interesting and engaging film directed by J.J Abrams, this well-acted film is mostly Sci-fi and mystery; however the six friends do mature and learn about themselves while investigating the unusual events which adds to the coming of age side of the story.
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A widowed single mother, raising her violent son alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbour inserts herself into their household. A well-acted coming of age directed by Xavier Dolan this foreign film shows how Steve a violent teen with ADHD starts to behave better, with the help of his neighbour. Not many films focus on a mother caring for her troubled son but Dolan captures this amazingly and manages to create an engaging, touching and powerful film with a beautiful soundtrack. So make sure to add Mommy to your Watchlist as it’s definitely one to watch!
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18. Mean Creek
After a teen is bullied, his brother and friends lure the bully into the woods to seek revenge. A well-acted, dramatic and depressing Coming Of Age, focusing on the cruelty and misunderstanding of youth. Unlike other coming of age films, Mean Creek is a serious story which explores the morals and conscience of youth, because of this Mean Creek is definitely a film to watch.
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17. The Way Way Back
The Way Way Back is a heart-warming, sweet, enjoyable and simple coming of age movie about 14 year old outcast Duncan who makes unexpected friends at a water park. During Duncan’s vacation we see him come out of his shell as he finally finds a place where he belongs and meets people who actually care about him. So if you want a nice warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face definitely watch The Way Way Back.
Full Review Here
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Two co-dependent high school seniors are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry. If you haven’t seen this film already, cancel your plans for the day and watch it immediately! Superbad is a crazy, wild and funny teen movie with a great cast consisting of Michael Cera, Jonah Hill, Emma Stone, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader. Although over the top at times Superbad is one of the actual vulgar but sincere and funny teen comedies.
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15. The Squid and The Whale
The Squid And The Whale follows Frank and Walt, two young boys dealing with their parents’ divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s. Dealing with your parent’s divorce is never easy and the squid and the whale proves that. It shows how Frank starts to behave unusually due to his parent’s divorce and how Walt begins to hate and blame his mother for the divorce. With some funny moments, The Squid And The Whale does a really good job of capturing Frank and Walt coming of age and coming to terms with their parents’ divorce.
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14. Easy A
A clean-cut high school student relies on the school’s rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing. Easy A’s story is a cool, funny and clever one which is elevated by its hilarious one-liners and charming lead, played by Emma Stone. It shows how one little lie can become one massive rumour and changes someone’s reputation. The story is different and the characters are charismatic (especially Emma Stone’s and Amanda Byne’s character) making it a refreshing watch.
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When Tanner is outted, he finds himself cast as the hottest new teen-girl accessory: The Gay Best Friend. The clique queens immediately pounce and makeover Tanner into their ideal arm candy. Now as silly as the concept may sound what makes G.B.F good is that it’s different, its modern and it’s really hilarious, never have I laughed so much watching a coming of age film. I understand this teen movie may not appeal to everyone but if you feel like watching something different and funny, I recommend G.B.F.
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12. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. There’s something unique about Me and earl and the dying girl which makes it stand out from many other coming of age movies, you’ll have to watch it to know. But the perfect cast, the cool characters and the stunning direction by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon contributes to the uniqueness of the film. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl mixes comedy and drama wonderfully, making you laugh and cry while watching this witty and beautiful coming of age.
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11. The Spectacular Now
A hard-partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl.” The Spectacular Now is a beautiful and emotional love story between two high school students. Their relationship changes each other for the better and we can see this through their genuine conversations and the dramatic scenes throughout the film. Everything was honest, realistic and wonderful, while watching this romantic coming of age, it won’t feel like watching a movie through a screen but it will feel like you’re right there with them.
Full Review Here
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10. The Kings Of Summer
Have you ever fantasied as a teenager about running away and escaping the annoyance of your parents? Well The Kings Of Summer is that fantasy in a sweet coming of age movie. Three teenage friends, in the ultimate act of independence, decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. During their wild adventure the three friends become more independent and their friendship is tested when a girl comes between them. The Kings Of Summer is a relatable coming of age which mixes drama and comedy beautifully.
Full Review Here
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9. Blue Is The Warmest Color
Blue Is The Warmest Color focuses on Adele throughout this three hour emotional and dramatic journey as she develops from a girl to a woman. Her life completely changes when she meets the open-minded, charming, blue-haired Emma. With Emma’s influence, Adele discovers her sexuality, accepts it, grows in confidence and learns more about herself while her passion for Emma grows. With outstanding acting and beautiful dialogue, Blue Is The Warmest Color is a superb film which is worth your time and shows the true meaning of coming of age.
Full Review Here
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8. The Girl Next Door
Matthew’s dreams come true when a former porn star moves in next door and they fall in love. Despite some of the negativity this filmed received and it being described as “just another teen sex comedy.” I disagree, I fell in love with this charismatic movie instantly and I feel it’s different to most teen comedies. Matthew a disciplined text book geek evolves under the influence of Danielle a former porn star, and learns more to life than just studying. With the help of its funny moments and charming leads Emile Hirsch and Elisha Cuthbert, The Girl Next Door is a coming of age movie worth watching.
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7. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
An introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors who welcome him to the real world. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a sweet coming of age which touches on many sensitive topics such as sexuality, mental illness, drugs and death. While touching on these topics and the emotional aspects of life the film still provides funny moments and interesting characters, overall making it a heart-warming and sincere coming of age film.
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Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the vigilantes that are on his trail and to reunite him with his true love. Mud is a fantastic movie which balanced both of its drama and coming of age stories well. It showed a sufficient amount of both stories as we observed the coming of age side of the movie which showed the life of Ellis. Ellis embraces his brave and adventurous side and grows during the journey while assisting Mud in his escape plan.
Full Review Here
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Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving life in a tough neighbourhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure. I’ll admit Dope may be ranked too highly on my list considering it just came out last year. However I really, really and mean really enjoyed it and had such a blast watching it. The plot is fun, the characters are cool and it’s hilarious. Dope is a refreshing take on the coming of age genre and is definitely a film to watch if you want to have a good time!
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4. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World
Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to win her heart. A fun, fast, unique film filled with fantastic special effects. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World re-invents the coming of age genre by utilising video games, comic books and special effects to the max to tell it’s story and create an entertaining film.
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3. Mysterious Skins
A teenage hustler and a young man obsessed with alien abductions cross paths, together discovering a horrible, liberating truth. Mysterious Skins is an amazing but difficult to watch coming of age film with outstanding performances. With all the movies I’ve seen, never has a specific scene in a film impacted me as much as that one disturbing scene in Mysterious Skins. What’s great about this film is that it’s bold, powerful and directed wonderfully. The film provides detailed backstory on both main protagonists so you can understand why they’re the way they are.
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2. City Of God
Two boys growing up in a violent neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. City Of God uses its compelling storytelling to keep your eyes glued to the screen, even when things get rough and become difficult to watch. City Of God is a masterpiece which is why it’s one of my favourite foreign and coming of age film.
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1. Moonrise Kingdom
A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out to find them. Moonrise Kingdom is a great charming, sweet and amusing film. There are so many brilliant qualities about Moonrise Kingdom which is way it ranks as number one. This visually stunning coming of age has unique characters, a superbly written script and an excellent cast which is all helped by Wes Anderson’s fantastic direction.
Full Review Here
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