Coming-of-age films are a dime a dozen, with these being some of the most universally popular genres ever to exist. These films provide a heavy dose of nostalgia and warmth that underscores the individual's unique mood at this particular moment in life.
Despite what is said about the real world, reality is always different from fiction, with people probably relating to a film's strange side characters more than the perfectly polished protagonist that is usually depicted. Some films embrace all of the weirdness of one of the most difficult moments in life, guaranteed to bring back memories that many would rather forget.
'Eighth Grade' (2018)
Bo Burnham's Eighth Grade explains in great detail all the difficulties of the most difficult part of life, following the main character Kayla (Elsie Fisher), a young 13-year-old girl in (you guessed it) eighth grade who struggles with social anxiety and making connections with her peers. The film also strongly emphasizes the internet and how it has influenced young people today, in both positive and negative ways.
It's a fantastic film that portrays contemporary anxieties that confront teens today, with off-beat humor and some of the finest cinema depictions of middle school life ever seen. It's a great way to make anyone reminisce about their middle school years.
'Welcome to the Dollhouse' (1995)
Heather Matarazzo, who plays Dawn Wiener in the main role, is incredibly shy and unpopular at school and home. No one seems to understand Dawn, not even her own parents, according to the film. Through the lens of mid-1990s sensibilities, the film explores teenage angst and middle-class suburban life.
Welcome to the Dollhouse is not a shy away from offensive material, but instead emphasizes the bleak side of growing up alongside American culture. It's funny but brutal, outlandish but painfully realistic, with some scenes that are beyond heartbreaking.
Dope follows three geeky high school pals who are quickly thrust into the fast-paced and dangerous world of drug dealing, complete with powerful performances from the three main actors played by Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, and Kiersey Clemons. It's funny without compromising on the reality and dangers of the young friends' experiences, with a beautiful, enthralling music soundtrack.
The film's strength comes from the trio's mutual respect and affinity for hip-hop culture, which has aided in the development of their strong bonds and is one of the most appealing traits they all have. Dope is funny, lively, and insightful, depicting racial identity, cultural expectations, friendship, and the importance of being honest to yourself.
'Ghost World' (2001)
This 2001 dark comedy follows two outsider friends who just graduated from high school but begin navigating their lives despite having no plans for their future apart from moving in together. Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson) have a deeply cynical outlook on the world, which gradually unravels as Enid begins to discover who she is.
Even in the light of dark themes and extremely tragic moments, the film never loses its sense of humor, capturing the whole spectrum of youth angst without romanticizing or ridiculing the characters' struggles. It is effortlessly cool and funny, demonstrating that friendships are an inevitable but heartbreaking part of life, but that one should never lose sight of yourself.
'The Half of It' (2020)
The Half of It, a 17-year-old girl from South Africa, is a movie about her struggles with making friends due to her religious isolation as a result of her side-job with writing assignments and homework for her classmates. She then begins a slow but amazing friendship with football player Paul (Daniel Diemer), who has also become her secret crush.
Each character's communication with each other is almost unbearable, especially with Paul and Ellie's special friendship, and the story is all about the importance of self-love and acceptance, which is bound to tug at your heartstrings. The Half of It is a compelling story about the difficulties of growing up in a remote town, with enough heart to please anyone who watches it.