A coming-of-age story is one that chronicles the passage into adulthood. Coming of age as a theme can also be found in literature and drama, such as Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, which follows Pip’s journey from childhood innocence to adult wisdom.

In this list we’ve selected the best coming of age movies with a young person at their center; some are funny, some are sad, and others are a little bit of both.

So, let’s take a look at the best coming of age movies that everyone (not just teenagers) should watch.

Best Coming Of Age Movies

What Are coming of age movies?

Coming of age movies are sometimes known, are a genre of film that focuses on the experiences of youth, particularly during the period between childhood and adulthood.

The typical coming-of-age drama tends to center on a young person who is going through a tough period of self-discovery and self-definition, and often features a teenage main character.

Titles in this genre may cover subjects such as rites of passage, sexuality and gender roles, oppression and discrimination, bullying, exam stress and first love.



Best Coming of Age Movies

For many of us, the coming of age movie is the first introduction to a life outside of our own.

It’s a glimpse into how our peers live their lives and what they do when they’re not in school.

Sometimes, it’s even a look into how we wish we were living our lives.

Let’s take a look at what we believe to be the best coming of age movies ever made.

Rebel Without A Cause (1955)

Rebel Without a Cause is a classic movie, released in 1955 and starring James Dean. It was directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by Nicholas Ray and James Dean. 

It was based on the novel of the same name, written by Jim Thompson. The film kept its main character’s name from the book: Jim Stark.

This movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, but did not win any of them. The film did well at the box office, making over $2 million in its first year,with a production budget of $360,000.

Rebel Without A Cause is set in an upper-class area of Los Angeles around Christmas. The story centers around two teenagers and their parents as they struggle with their relationships with each other, their children, and society as a whole.

Jim Stark is a rebellious youth who has problems with his parents and teachers at school because he does not feel that he fits into society. He is also troubled because his parents are constantly fighting. 

He gets suspended from school and starts hanging out with Plato, who has stolen a car. They go joyriding together while they argue over what they are rebelling against.

Rebel Without a Cause (Blu-ray)
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Various (Actor)
  • Various (Director)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Graduate (1967)

An American comedy-drama directed by Mike Nichols, The Graduate stars Dustin Hoffman as a recent college graduate with no well-defined aim in life. 

He is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and then falls in love with her daughter Elaine. 

Initially the film was both a critical and commercial failure, butwas nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Original Score.

It won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Dustin Hoffman in his film debut. In 1995, The Graduate was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” 

In 1996 the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

The Graduate has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry eight times: once in 1989, three times in 1999 and thrice more in 2005, 2007 and 2011 respectively.

The Graduate is the story of recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), who has just been given a dubious “promotion” by his parents: he is to see to the seduction of Mrs. Robinson, the wife of his father’s business partner.

Benjamin, who is not quite ready to settle down into the mundane existence, embarks on an affair with Mrs. Robinson. At the same time he must also contend with her daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), who becomes infatuated with him.

The Graduate remains one of the finest films ever made about coming-of-age moments in life.

The Graduate (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
  • The Graduate
  • Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross (Actors)
  • Mike Nichols (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

American Graffiti (1973)

In 1962, two years before he would create a pair of seminal science fiction films, American Graffiti (1973) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), director George Lucas made a short film called Freiheit.

The film is set in Germany during the 1930s and is about a young man named Uli who feels trapped by his job at a car factory. The movie ends on a note of heightened realism, with Uli committing suicide by jumping off an industrial tower.

Of course, this was only his first feature-length film. It’s still an important movie in Lucas’ oeuvre as it demonstrated to him that he wanted to create movies for the rest of his life. “I realized I had some talent at making films,” he said in an interview, “and I didn’t want to waste my time doing anything else.”

The movie premiered in 1973 and was released in a few theaters across America. Though it received mostly positive reviews from critics, it was not a box office success. In fact, it was such a disaster that the people who had invested money into the film sued Lucas for fraud and were able to get their money back.

More American Graffiti
  • Ron Howard;Cindy Williams;Charles Martin Smith;Paul Le Mat;Mackenzie Phillips (Actor)
  • Bill L. Norton (Director)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

Breaking Away (1979)

In Breaking Away, Dave (Dennis Christopher) is a high school senior in Bloomington, Indiana. He has a summer job washing dishes with his friends Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley), Cyril (Daniel Stern), and Mike (James Russo). 

Dave is obsessed with bicycle racing and competes in amateur races throughout the summer, even though his father tells him it’s a waste of time.

The movie begins with a montage of Dave competing in various races throughout the summer. He falls behind Cyril in competition for the umpteenth time, but shortly thereafter he wins the race. He and his friends go to a bar to celebrate, where he gets into an altercation with Chuck Cranmer (Bruce Dern), an older former champion cyclist who was on the US Olympic team.

Dave’s girlfriend and love interest, Annie (Martha Plimpton), has been accepted into Harvard University. 

As she prepares to leave for college, she and Dave attempt to make plans for their future together, but Dave doesn’t have much of a plan beyond his love of cycling. He breaks up with her so she can go to Harvard without being distracted by him.

Cotton Candy (1979)

Cotton Candy is a fun movie. The idea of being able to record your dreams sounds like a neat concept, but the realism of it would be  interesting to explore.

It seems like a typical romance movie with a man and woman who fall in love at first sight.However, there is one major difference. The man and woman in this film are not human, but aliens from another planet.

The main character, Cinda, is an alien from Jupiter who has to travel to earth to stop an alien invasion. She does this by becoming involved with a human, Ronny, who is an amateur filmmaker and owns a film company. 

Throughout the film, the pair experience exciting events that keep you on the edge of your seat. Eventually they begin to feel something beyond friendship for one another.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Abbie Cornish, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush (Actors)
  • Neil Armfield (Director) - Margaret Fink (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)


Sixteen Candles (1984)

Sixteen Candles is a 1984 American coming of age comedy  written and directed by John Hughes. It was the directorial debut of Hughes, who also wrote the screenplay. The film’s central character is Samantha “Sam” Baker (Molly Ringwald), a 16-year-old girl living with her family in the fictional town of Hillford, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

The plot focuses on Sam’s day-to-day adolescence which she describes as “a nightmare”. Her family members are either overprotective or completely absent. 

She is also at the mercy of a perverted freshman (played by Anthony Michael Hall) and an obnoxious older boyfriend (played by Michael Schoeffling).

Sam is the eldest daughter of a wealthy family residing in Hillford. Her father, Jim (Paul Dooley), is a doctor who spends most of his time in his basement office, or in the local bar with his friends. Her mother, Brenda(Carlin Glynn), is a housewife who appears to be depressed and lonely ever since her son left for college.

Sixteen Candles
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling (Actors)
  • John Hughes (Director) - John Hughes (Writer) - Hilton A. Green (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

The Breakfast Club is a 1985 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written, produced, and directed by John Hughes. 

It stars Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy as teenagers who spend a Saturday in detention together and come to realize that they may not be so different after all.

The Breakfast Club
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Emilio Estevez, Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson (Actors)
  • John Hughes (Director) - John Hughes (Writer) - Ned Tanen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Vision Quest (1985)

Vision Quest is a story of a popular highschool wrestler named Louden Swain. He’s dating the hottest girlin school, Katherine, and he’s generally the envy of everyone around him. 

Things are going great until he meets up with his English teacher, Mr. Hand, who encourages Louden to go on a vision quest so that he can find out once and for all what it is that he wants to do with his life.

Vision Quest
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Matthew Modine, Linda Fiorentino, Michael Schoeffling (Actors)
  • Harold Becker (Director) - Terry Davis (Writer) - Adam Fields (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Stand By Me (1986)

The movie Stand By Me is a coming-of-age tale of four friends on an adventure to find the body of a dead child.

The film follows these four boys as they travel through their home town and develop as individuals.

Throughout the movie, each character deals with his own personal struggles and things that life has thrown at him.

The first character we meet is Gordie Lachance, played by Wil Wheaton.

He is known as the de facto leader of the pack because he is older than Chris Chambers (River Phoenix) and Teddy Duchamp (Corey Feldman).

The second person we are introduced to is Chris Chambers, played by River Phoenix. He is Gordie’s best friend, who has been raised in a very loving household. His father, however, has recently passed away so this becomes an important part of his storyline.

The third person we meet is Teddy Duchamp, played by Corey Feldman. He lives in a broken home that consists of an abusive stepfather and an alcoholic mother.

We also meet Vern Tessio, played by Jerry O’Connell, who lives with his parents and younger brother near Teddy’s house. In most cases, Vern would be considered the “sidekick.

Stand by Me
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman (Actors)
  • Rob Reiner (Director) - Bruce A. Evans (Writer) - Andrew Scheinman (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)