What does it mean to “come of age?” In the world of movies and entertainment, it means that an individual is crossing the threshold from childhood into adulthood. There’s usually a major life moment, shift, or event that viewers watch a character experience. Whatever that moment might be sheds light on the fact that the character is no longer a child.
Netflix has a lot of movies that fit into this category, and it’s understandable why. Growing up isn’t easy, and some of these movies will remind you what it felt like to be in middle school, high school, and college all over again. If you’re looking for a trip down memory lane, here are 10 different paths you can travel that all lead back to a similarly nostalgic place.
All the Bright Places
Justice Smith and Elle Fanning lead the way in All the Bright Places. This coming-of-age movie is about two teenagers who form an unexpected romantic relationship. They’re both struggling with traumatic issues from their pasts, but whenever they spend time together it seems like their issues melt away. This movie sheds light on undiagnosed mental illness and how heartbreaking it can be. Since this particular film is sad to watch, it would be wise to keep a pack of tissues nearby.
Sierra Burgess is a Loser
Seeing Noah Centineo in any movie is awesome in itself because he’s become the hunky movie heartthrob of his generation. He’s the main man in Sierra Burgess is a Loser, a coming-of-age Netflix original about a dorky girl who goes head-to-head against the most popular girl on her campus. Instead of dealing with a high school bully, she’d rather worry about her crush, who’s played by none other than Noah.
The Half of It
The Half of It tells the story of a Chinese-American student who earns straight A’s in the classroom. She’s super shy as a result of being so focused on her studies and ends up connecting with the popular jock from her high school when she learns that he has a crush on a beautiful girl on their campus. She agrees to help him woo the girl, even though she secretly has a crush on the girl herself! This movie is just as complicated as it sounds, but quirky in all the cutest ways.
The Edge of Seventeen
Hailee Steinfeld is the star of The Edge of Seventeen, a coming-of-age movie that everyone should watch if they want to be reminded of their cringe-worthy high school years. In this movie, her best friend falls in love with her older brother and the new relationship causes her to feel completely left out of the loop. She doesn’t feel close to her brother or her best friend anymore, which leads to a whole lot of resentment. Since she’s feeling so low in her circumstances, she ends up saying one too many things she regrets, and plenty of relatable dramedy ensues.
The Spectacular Now
Watching Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller play characters who are slowly falling in love with each other is probably one of the most precious things The Spectacular Now brings to the table. The charming teen movie has its funny parts and emotional moments flawlessly sewn together. Being in high school is a tricky time to navigate and this movie very much emphasizes that fact.
Lady Bird is considered both a drama and a comedy as it focuses on a young woman who has a tough relationship with her mother. They don’t always get along and it causes quite a bit of turbulence in their household. Her mother works tirelessly as a nurse to make ends meet after her father loses his job. As a result, Lady Bird begins exploring what it means to be a rebel because of the difficult situation she’s dealing with at home. Utter hilarity and tear-jerking moments ensue.
16 Candles is one of the oldest movies on this list, but it still deserves recognition. The movie was released in 1984 and starred Molly Ringwald in the leading role. It’s about a teenage girl who realizes that her entire family has forgotten her 16th birthday! Since her older sister is getting married, the wedding is totally overshadowing everything else going on. The main character has an undeniable crush on the most popular guy at school while the nerd on her campus is severely crushing on her. It’s a hilarious love triangle that ends in the most magical way.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Noah Centineo strikes again in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. The Netflix original is based on a series of novels written by Jenny Han about a teenage girl who reveals her crushes on multiple young men through handwritten letters. Her younger sister deviously mails the letters out, exposing every single crush for what it is. Instead of trying to deny that she wrote the letters, the main character connects with a handsome boy at her school for a totally fake relationship. The fake relationship ends up becoming real as ever when both youngsters develop intimate feelings for each other.
One of the coolest things to ever go down in cinematic history is the filming of Boyhood. The movie documents and observes one boy‘s journey as he physically grows up year after year. It took filmmakers 12 years to create the final product, between 2001 and 2013. Eventually, it was released in 2014 for audiences to enjoy in theaters. The movie begins while the boy is about to start his first days of primary school and ends when he reaches his first days of college. The filmmakers went to painstaking lengths to create this authentic film, and because of that, it’s a remarkable piece of cinema.
Being a tall girl in high school isn’t the most enjoyable thing in the world. Being a tall girl in college is usually fine, but in high school, where most male students haven’t grown into themselves just yet, it can be quite a challenge. In this totally relatable coming-of-age story, the tallest girl on campus develops a crush on the good-looking foreign exchange student who’s just enrolled at her school. Since she’s so insecure about her height, it gets in the way of her romantic endeavors.
You can watch all of these coming-of-age stories, and many more like them, right now on Netflix.