5 of the Best Coming-of-Age Films

We had Stand By Me and The Breakfast Club in the ’80s and Dazed and Confused in the ’90s, and yes they are great coming-of-age films, but is there really any need to keep reminding you of that in every film list over and over again?

So, I’ve decided to select some alternate choices. I have always strongly connected with coming-of-age stories, and these five picks are some of the best I’ve seen within the genre. If you haven’t seen these films, then you need to get them on your watch-list ASAP!

The Basketball Diaries (1995)

The Basketball Diaries tells the story of Jim Carroll’s teenage years where he developed an addiction to heroin. It’s the best all-round film on this list and not your typical coming-of-age film, because it’s extremely dark and depressing in places. But the film’s grittiness and its convincing depiction of youth, makes it a must-watch. I was also blown away by DiCaprio’s performance and his sheer commitment to the role.

Mean Creek (2004)

Mean Creak is one those films that I stumbled upon randomly and decided to watch. This indie film as far as I’m aware had virtually no marketing because I don’t remember anyone ever talking about it… Though I am making an educated guess on that, because I would have been about ten when the film came out, so naturally I can’t recall distinct memories that far back. But my point is that this film never got the attention it deserves. It involves bullying and peer pressure, and a group of kids who are forced to grow up real fast when they come across a dire situation.

The Spectacular Now (2010)


I initially thought The Spectacular Now looked quite generic, but I was willing to give it a chance, and I’m glad I did because it’s a really good film. It’s not just another ‘teen romance’ film, as it’s very thoughtful and affecting, with characters you deeply care for, and who speak and act like actual teenagers. And the main character Sutter (Miles Teller), isn’t a shy outsider like a lot of teens are in coming-of-age films. Instead, he’s a confident and outgoing guy, so it’s a refreshing change.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)


It’s a rare thing but The Perks of Being of Wallflower is on par with the original book. The differences between the two are minor, and the little changes that were made in the film are successful. It’s a funny, poignant and uplifting film, bursting with vibrant characters and a great soundtrack.

The Way, Way Back (2013)


If anything, you should see The Way, Way Back just because Steve Carell plays a bad guy. But more importantly, this is a film for any age, whether you’re an adult or a young kid. It follows fourteen-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who goes on a summer vacation with his mother and her new boyfriend, and he endures a spirited journey of self-discovery. The Way, Way Back is a hugely enjoyable film that rings home on so many levels.

So, what do you think of the list? Are there any other coming-of-age films that you think should be on here? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.


15 thoughts on “5 of the Best Coming-of-Age Films

  1. Bravo to The Way, Way Back. It was probably my biggest surprise that year and even made its way into my top five. We recently re-watched it a couple of months ago and it quickly reminded me of why I loved it so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. great list! The Basketball Diaries especially intrigues me–gonna have to keep an eye out for that one. really pumped to see The Spectacular Now on there too! Loved that one. It really should have been marketed differently, cuz like you said–on the surface, from the title, the poster, etc. it seems like a generic teen romance, but it’s really quite raw and dark in places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! You should definitely check out The Basketball Diaries, and you’re right The Spectacular Now’s marketing didn’t represent the film, and probably made a lot of people overlook it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good list, but I have not seen many on it. I love The Basketball Diaries, great inclusion there and you are right – DiCaprio was great. I prefer his earlier filmography because gosh you can just see so much talent and potential in him. He had things to prove still. My other favourite coming-of-age film is also “An Education” (2009).

    Liked by 1 person

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