What does it mean to grow up? What do we learn along the way, and how do we know when we’ve really reached the threshold that means we’ve come of age? In real life, it’s an often nebulous distinction, which is why all of us so often turn to art to help us articulate it.

The coming-of-age movie is a well-tested, familiar, and deeply evocative type of film that transcends genre, age, historical period, plus so much more, all to deliver to the viewer a sense of the universal experience that is passing beyond childhood. There are, associated with course, numerous masterpieces in the field, but if you want the best of the best, these are 25 of our favorites.

Driven by a wonderfully naturalistic performance from a young Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel, François Truffaut’s seminal film about a boy from Paris who searches for freedom at almost all costs remains as powerful today as it was more than 60 years ago. From the method Truffaut shoots a boy’s eye view of the city streets to the remarkable depths of human indifference and passion it shows in equal measure, it remains the masterwork from one associated with France’s finest filmmakers.

Leaud and Truffaut would go on in order to collaborate several more times, with Leaud portraying Antoine Doinel in four other films, which traced the particular character (who was a stand-in for Truffaut) at various other points throughout his life: Antoine and Colette (1962), Stolen Kisses (1968), Bed plus Board (1970), and Love on the Run (1979).

Peter Bogdanovich took the story of two small-town friends in a dying Texas oil burg and made it into an elegiac, black-and-white masterpiece about the things we’re forced to leave behind, and the things we’d rather forget. The Last Picture Show , which is full of beautiful visuals and driven simply by an astonishing young cast that includes Jeff Bridges plus Cybill Shepherd, remains the haunted, and haunting, movie about goodbyes in all their forms. In 1990, Bogdanovich managed to reunite most of the original cast with regard to a sequel, Texasville , that failed to live up to the particular critical acclaim of the original.

American Graffiti , George Lucas’s pre- Star Wars masterpiece, unfolds over a single summer night in the 1950s, as several American teenagers make one last (often desperate) attempt to hold onto child years just a little longer before adulthood sets within. It’s one of the particular ultimate hangout movies, so laidback plus slick that will you frequently don’t see the emotional gut punches until they’ve already hammered you.   The movie shares several things in common with Happy Days —including the star (Ron Howard), a theme song (“Rock Around the Clock”), and even a title font—but there’s no connection between the two.

Terrence Malick’s directorial debut shows off early flourishes associated with what would become the director’s signature lush visual style wrapped around a story of how violence usually kickstarts the person’s understanding of the world. In this case, that person is a young woman—played with brilliant subtlety by Sissy Spacek—who comes to discover that the particular man she loves (Martin Sheen) is an unhinged killer. The audience witnesses exactly how that realization shapes her view of the world through a combination of submission, justification, and finally, resignation. The particular film is loosely based on the real-life story of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate , who reportedly killed 11 people between December 1957 and January 1958.

Australian filmmaker Peter Weir is the only director on this list twice, because he somehow managed in order to make seminal coming-of-age films starring both boys and girls. Picnic at Hanging Rock —an adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel—is Weir’s mystical, often disturbing ode towards the mysteries of girlhood, as each the girls themselves as well as the people around them reckon with the fallout from the title event. There are great depths to this tale, but in its core, it’s a tale about how growing up sometimes means that the version you understand of certain people can literally vanish into thin air. Within 2018, Amazon adapted Lindsay’s novel into a six-part television series starring Game of Thrones ’s Natalie Dormer.

If there’s any central message to the particular teen comedies of John Hughes, it is that all of us—no matter which usually clique we all fit into or how well we perform at the local parties—are human when we go home at the end of the day. The Breakfast Club and its story of five students who become unlikely friends over the course of one pivotal day is perhaps Hughes’s purest distillation of this lesson, and his most enduring.   The particular actors do deserve some of the credit, though: The famous library scene, where each character shares their darkest secret, was mostly improvised.

Stand by Me , Rob Reiner’s portrait of a group associated with friends that head out to see a dead body and encounter much more along the way, will be many wonderful things. It’s a great Stephen King adaptation , an excellent ensemble film, a great meditation on earlier encounters with real-life death, and a great reminder that will memories of a “simpler time” are usually, when we are honest, usually anything but simple. Flashdance (1983) plus Fatal Attraction (1987) movie director Adrian Lyne was originally attached to the project.

Few movies have ever expressed the particular transformative power of cinema quite like Guiseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso . The story of the successful filmmaker who flashes back in order to his years as a child worshiping from the feet of the local projectionist, it’s a film that’s because much about the magic of movies as it is concerning the magic associated with childhood. In fact , in the particular end this barely draws a line between the two, and that’s exactly the point.   Tornatore based much of the film on his own childhood, plus even shot the movie in his hometown of Bagheria, Sicily.

Hayao Miyazaki has made many wonderful films about the child years, but this film—about a young witch who else sets out on her own to begin the girl training—might be the finest in terms of coming-of-age magic. It is, like just about all Miyazaki movies, visually stunning, and the particular story of Kiki’s journey from emboldened child which can barely fly to young woman who learns to soar in her own way remains dazzling. In 2016, the real-life bakery modeled on the eatery featured inside Kiki’s Delivery Service opened in Japan’s Ōita Prefecture.

Peter Weir’s film regarding a group of boys enraptured simply by their new English teacher could have come off as something deeply preachy, the story associated with young men who “come of age” simply by following the instructions of an older man. Thanks to Weir’s precise direction, and Robin Williams ’s remarkably nuanced overall performance, it instead becomes a dialogue, a tale of the males teaching themselves, and extension teaching their own teacher, as they learn in order to become passionate men. The particular film’s script, which won the 1990 Oscar regarding Best Original Screenplay, has been partly based on screenwriter Tom Schulman’s experiences at Montgomery Bell Academy, a prep school in Nashville, Tennessee.

John Singleton’s debut movie remains both an essential portrait associated with a particular time and place in American life, plus a timeless exploration of the burden that American society puts on young Black males who are every trying, in their personal way, to rise up. From your ensemble forged to the particular ways in which the past mirrors the future in Singleton’s two-part narrative, it all still works, and it’s all still important.   Singleton approached Steve Nicolaides to produce the particular film because of his previous work on Stand By Me personally , which was one of Singleton’s favorite movies. “It was a good homage, ” Nicolaides told Reiner during the making associated with A Few Good Men . “I mean, the fat kid wears a striped shirt in it, too. ”

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is a timeless classic that’s been adapted for the particular screen a number of times, but many would argue that it’s never been done better compared to when Gillian Armstrong marshaled an all-star cast led by Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Christian Bale , and Claire Danes. Visually, the movie is steeped in the cozy textures of idyllic childhood even when the particular March girls are facing hardship, plus emotionally it’s a deeply layered portrait of the phases of growing upward, even the ones where growing up itself is cut tragically short. Though Bale was hardly a household name with the time, he became what some might consider an early prototype of “The Internet’s Boyfriend, ” along with an online fan club that attracted nearly 60, 000  visitors   per week at the time when few homes had internet service. In 1997, Bale told  Movieline   that most the attention left him “mortified. ”

Sofia Coppola’s feature directorial debut is usually a movie with a deep and thorough obsession with both the time and place in which it’s set plus the emotional elasticity associated with its plot. The story of a group of kids and the particular local family of sisters with which usually they’re fascinated, it’s a movie that takes on an almost mythic quality as the story goes on. By the end, it feels like a local legend a person would have heard growing up, one that taught you while much about life mainly because anything you actually experienced firsthand. Coppola offered the role in the film to a then-14-year-old Scarlett Johansson , who found the content to be a bit too intense for her age. Four years later, the particular two worked together upon Lost in Translation .

Inspired by writer/director Cameron Crowe’s own early years as a Rolling Stone journalist, Almost Famous offers the requisite killer soundtrack for the movie regarding a boy who discovers to be a man by subsequent a band across the country. But it also has thus much a lot more, from heartbreakingly beautiful performances by Kate Hudson plus Philip Seymour Hoffman in order to one from the great quotable insights inside movie history: “The only true currency in this particular bankrupt world is what a person share with someone else whenever you’re uncool. ”

Werewolf stories are inherently about transformation, so it makes sense that will the subgenre merges perfectly with coming-of-age stories. With Ginger Snaps , Steve Fawcett and Karen Walton took the teenage werewolf story way beyond Michael J. Fox , crafting a tale of two sisters (played by Katharine Isabelle plus Emily Perkins) obsessed with dying, who soon find themselves face-to-face with it since their bodies and minds change in to something else entirely. It’s a remarkably effective metaphor, and a great horror film to boot.   The movie became a cult hit and spawned both the sequel and a prequel, both of which saw the return of Isabelle and Perkins. In 2008, the actresses reunited once again to play sisters in a very different kind of movie: the particular Disney Channel’s Another Cinderella Story .

Part road film, part yoga on the fine line between sex and loss of life, Alfonso Cuarón’s handheld work of art might be best remembered intended for its sexual intercourse scenes. Yet beneath that often clumsy adolescent sultriness there is a deep sense associated with emotional weight, as 2 young guys reckon with the passage of period and life in ways they never imagined while they’re just trying to impress an older woman.   The film’s script, which Cuarón wrote with his brother Carlos, earned him their first of 10 (and counting) Oscar nominations.

Wes Anderson turned his knack to get creating magical worlds out of seemingly mundane scenarios directly into coming-of-age gold with this whimsical film about two kids (Jared Gilman plus Kara Hayward) who decide to run away together, along with the way their particular community reacts to their flight. In a career complete of amazing visual flourishes, it might be Anderson’s most gorgeous film. It also features some of his most delicate moments of intimacy and yearning. Anderson initially set out to write the script on their own. When, one year later, he had just completed 15 pages , he enlisted the assist of Roman Coppola. Together, they were able to complete the screenplay in about a month, and earned an Oscar nod for their work.

Richard Linklater famously filmed Boyhood within pieces throughout 12 many years (during which usually they chance for regarding 45 days ), producing a movie that’s essentially a series of snapshots of a young boy’s (Ellar Coltrane) existence as he moves from first grade to adulthood. But this is a film that’s so much more than its gimmick. It is Linklater and his throw paying off the gambles they required year after year time and period again with a lyrical, unpredictable journey through the mundane as well as profound.

Marielle Heller’s bold, unapologetically open look at one teen girl’s sexual awakening plus subsequent reckoning with her own choices is anchored by Bel Powley’s fearless work in the particular leading role. Funny, quirky, and the little heartbreaking, it’s one of the most honest movies you’ll ever see about developing up that manages to be universal despite its particular, intimate focus.   The film is definitely adapted through Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel, which Heller originally turned into an one-act play , in which she also starred.

Taika Waititi’s ode for the kids who don’t fit in, Hunt for the particular Wilderpeople thrives on the chemistry among stars Julian Dennison and Sam Neill as a mismatched foster child plus reluctant foster father who also venture out straight into the wilderness together. What they find along the way is a series of lifestyle lessons, associated with course, yet life lessons viewed through Waititi’s own beautifully strange lens, creating a kind of enchanted landscape alongside the particular realities associated with loss, change, and redemption. Film production company marked the 1st New Zealand-made feature in order to earn $1 million in the New Zealand box office in the opening weekend.

More than half a decade after its release, Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight continues to be one of the most amazing cinematic achievements in the 2010s. Visually gorgeous, thematically balanced, and built on a narrative through line that in no way wavers even as the faces change, it’s a haunting and deeply moving portrait of a Black boy becoming a Black guy who nevertheless struggles to embrace whom he really is. Naomie Harris, who attained a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for Moonlight , photo all of the girl scenes in just three days, which was all the particular time the girl could afford as she was within the midst of a global promotional tour for Spectre , Sam Mendes’s 2015 James Bond movie .

Perhaps the most honest thing about Luca Guadagnino’s Italy-set romantic masterwork is the way it depicts attraction emerging from fumbling, often brutal, teenage judgment. The story associated with a child ( Timothée Chalamet ) who grows up through his budding love for an older man (Armie Hammer), it’s each a beautifully made movie and a deeply truthful 1, portraying a good adolescent feeling that happens gradually, then comes on all of at as soon as, with thoughtful emotional precision. When the film screened on the 2017 New York Film Festival, it received a 10-minute standing ovation—the longest of any movie within the festival’s more than half-century-long history.

Greta Gerwig’s often hilarious, often tragic mother-daughter two-hander works extremely well, and not just because Saoirse Ronan plus Laurie Metcalf work incredibly well together. Their chemistry is paramount, but everything about the way Gerwig crafts the particular film, from the visuals to the tonal shifts it’s able to build into each moment, make it a remarkable ode to the particular growing pains of parent-child relationships as the child transcends their old part. The film received a total of five Academy Award nominations, including one pertaining to Gerwig meant for Best Director—making her only the fifth lady in background to earn the accolade.

Tigers Are Not Afraid , Issa Lopez’s haunting urban fairy tale about street kids fighting to survive in a Mexican city devastated by drugs and violence, is a portrait of that specific time in youth when every thing seems imbued with a kind of magic. If you know what you’re doing, you may use that will magic, but it often has a cost. This is a film about that cost, and what you learn when you encounter it, and it’s because powerful since it is usually magical.

Writer/director Bo Burnham was uniquely positioned to make a film that’s like much regarding the online personas kids craft as this is in regards to the raw brutalities of just how those personas are smashed to pieces in real life. In his hands, plus thanks in order to Elsie Fisher’s beautifully vulnerable lead efficiency, Eighth Grade becomes both a fascinating time capsule associated with we were young in the 2010s and the heartfelt ode to younger people everywhere who are figuring things out in the open, whether they want to or not.   Fisher filmed the particular movie in the summer following her real-life eighth grade experience.

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