Ranking the 13 Absolute Best Coming-of-Age Movies

Life is like an exciting journey. When you grow up, it can be a bit confusing to feel both nervous about new things and proud of what you’ve achieved.

But like everything else in life, it’s all about the experiences and lessons along the way. And here are 13 movies that incredibly depict this experience. 

1. Stand By Me (1986)

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Based on a novella by Stephen King, Rob Reiner’s 1986 Stand by Me is an 80s classic film that perfectly portrays children’s coming-of-age.

It follows the story of four boys who went hiking just to find a dead body, a classic King maneuver. The story delves deeper into all the uglies and sunshine of the childhood experience, which got the movie two Global Globe Awards and one Academy Award nomination. 

2. Dead Poets Society (1989)

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Peter Weir’s 1989 Dead Poets Society is an award-winning drama that follows the story of an English professor played by Robin Williams.

The movie shows the role that mentors play in the lives of students, and in this case, Williams helped them find their own identities as they navigate real-life problems and dilemmas. 

3. Scent of a Woman (1992)

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The 1992 Scent of a Woman is another award-winning coming-of-age drama which is a remake of an Italian film by Dino Risi. The plot follows a school student who became an assistant to a retired blind lieutenant colonel from the Army.

Besides the fact that it stars Al Pacino, the story is intellectually and emotionally tasty. 

4. The Last Picture Show (1971)

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The 1971 The Last Picture Show is a movie based on Larry McMurtry’s novel with the same title. This drama film perfectly captures a person’s authentic and honest coming-of-age experience in general.

It follows the story of Duane Jackson and Sonny Crawford, long-time friends who are both high-school seniors, as they grow up together into new versions of themselves. 

5. The Night of the Hunter (1955)

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The Night of the Hunter is a Charles Laughton thriller based on David Grubb’s novel.

The award-winning movie tells the story of a serial killer hiding in plain sight as a preacher. He also acts ardent admirer of a bank robber’s widow so that he can get her husband’s stolen $10,000 loot. The story is unique and unusual, with some silent film elements applied to it. 

6. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

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The 1945 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an American drama based on Betty Smith’s novel.

The story follows the life of a second-generation Irish-American family in New York. While struggling and impoverished, the family remains loving and true to the American dream they’ve always been aspiring for, especially the young girl in the family striving to persevere. 

7. A Patch of Blue (1965)

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A Patch of Blue is director Guy Green’s take on friendship that grows between mismatched people.

In this case, the movie focused on the relationship between a blind and illiterate white girl and an educated African-American man at a time when America was still racially divided with many civil rights movements. 

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

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Based on Stephen Chbosky’s 2012 novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie that follows the new life of Charlie, played by Logan Lerman, as he attends a new high school. Lerman navigates through making new friends and builds his identity while suffering from depression and struggling to fit into a new environment.  

9. Almost Famous (2000)

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A Cameron Crowe comedy-drama film, Almost Famous revolves around the life of a teenage journalist who goes on a tour with a popular band to write a cover story about the musician and publish it in Rolling Stone magazine.

It is a semi-autobiographical film that the director himself created. 

10. Boyhood (2014)

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Directed by Richard Linklater, Boyhood is an iconic coming-of-age movie that discusses in detail the life of Mason Evans Jr. a child of divorced parents in Texas.

The movie showcases his struggles as he grows from his childhood to his adolescence, where all the years are covered uniquely. 

11. Captain Courageous (1937)

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Captain Courageous is an adventure movie based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel with the same title.

Set in the mid-1920s in black-and-white, this film follows the life of a spoiled American business tycoon’s son, who, after getting shunned and suspended from boarding school, went on a business trip through a luxury liner and fell overboard. He was then rescued by a fishing ship with a rowdy crew. 

12. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

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Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a coming-of-age comedy movie popularly directed by John Hughes.

This film narrates the story of Ferris, a high school student who decides to skip classes with his best friend and his girlfriend. It also offers a unique storytelling method where the main character breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. 

13. The Breakfast Club (1985)

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American teen film The Breakfast Club is a mix of comedy and drama as the story follows the lives of five teenagers who served detention in school. They come from different school cliques, and the plot of this movie explores their efforts to stray from all these stereotypes – a true coming-of-age concept!

Can you relate to any of these films? Which one do you relate with the most?

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Source: IMDb