The best teen movies on Netflix
How do you remember your high school experience? If you grimace when you think back to your tragic wardrobe choices and unrequited teen love, rest assured you’re not alone. Thankfully, you don’t have to go back to your adolescence to enjoy teen movies. Whether comedy, drama, or bizarro thriller, the best teen movies find the humor and humanity within our universally awkward adolescent experiences, allowing us to sympathize and root for characters without having to relive their trauma ourselves. So slide into your favorite pair of old overalls, fish your retainer out of the junk drawer, and check out the best teen movies on Netflix.
The best teen movies on Netflix
This isnt a rom-com in the traditional sense, thanks to the line fuck me gently with a chainsaw, among other things. But the relationship between Winona Ryders and Christian Slaters characters is one of the more complex to emerge from the ’80s high school genre. Veronica (Ryder), one of the four popular Heathers, finds a mirror in JD (Slater), an outcast who inadvertently hatches a plan that kills one of the other Heathers. Their relationship doesnt have ameet-cute; its more about how love (or lust) blinds you.Audra Schroeder
2) ACinderella Story
Hilary Duff, the it girl of the early 2000s, stars in a then-modern spinoff of Disneys animated classic with Chad Michael Murray. The plot follows a high school girl who falls in love with an anonymous person over email and text messages, only to discover they may be one of the most popular guys in her school. You can probably guess how the story unfolds if youre even the slightest fan of Disney movies, but its one of the best teen movies on Netflix all the same. Kristen Hubby
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This Netflix rom-com follows the titular Sierra Burgess (Stranger ThingsShannon Purser), a smart and awkward teenage girl who balances confidence and insecurity, often at the same time. Veronica (Kristine Froseth), a cheerleader and one of Sierras tormentors, gives Sierras phone number to sensitive jock Jamey (To All the Boys Ive Loved Before‘sNoah Centineo) so she doesnt have to give him her number. By the time she learns who shes supposed to be, Sierras already fallen for Jamey. She recruits Veronica to help her keep up the faade in exchange for tutoring Veronica so that she can catch the eye of a college boy who rejected her. While Sierra Burgess can’t quite shake its slightly creepy premise, it offers a sweet and unlikely friendship between two girls from completely different social circles. Michelle Jaworski
4) To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
To All the Boys Ive Loved Before tells the story of Lara Jean Covey (Land Condor), a Korean-American high-schooler whose world is turned upside down when the private letters she wrote to her secret crushes end up getting mailed. One of the recipients is Josh (Israel Broussard), her childhood best friend and older sisters ex-boyfriend; another is Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), who is struggling to get over his own breakup from his ex-girlfriend, Gen (Emilija Baranac). Lara Jean and Peter agree to fake a relationship so she can show Josh that shes moved on and he can make Gen jealous. It all works like a charm, until the feelings start to creep in. To All the Boys is one of the smartest and sweetest original teen movies on Netflix, a quietly progressive film that rightfully made the world fall in love with its two leads. Bryan Rolli
5) Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
During Michael Ceras glorious mid-aughts run of comedies, he starred alongside Kat Dennings in this infinitely charming and funny rom-com. Nick and Norah, strangers at the start of the movie, turn their meet-cute into an all-night chase around New York to catch a secret show by the elusive band Wheres Fluffy. The movie is plenty funny, but its the relationship between Nick and Norah that elevates the movie above most of its peers. Eddie Strait
Theres not a lot to say aboutBoyhoodthat hasnt already been said. Its a masterpiece, an experience unlike any other, and one of the best movies of the century so far. Champion of the understated, director Richard Linklater casually follows the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from childhood to college, checking in with his actors as they aged over a 12-year shooting process. In the Linklater way, eschewing grand, life-changing moments in favor of the everyday business of just living, the film becomes extraordinary in its ordinariness. This is one persons story, and the narrative never focuses on anything other than that person becoming himselfwhich is, of course, both one of the most ordinary and the most beautiful things anyone can ever achieve. To say thatBoyhoodworks only as an experiment would be shortsighted. It works as a complete and profound work of art on its own, too.Chris Osterndorf
7)Blue Is the Warmest Color
This French film could easily be the most powerful and honest love story of this generation. A French teen (Adle Exarchopoulos) whos trying to force herself to love men has her life changed when she meets a girl (La Seydoux) with blue hair at a lesbian bar.Blue Is the Warmest Color illustrates the trials and tribulations of not only young love, but the exploration and understanding of sexuality. Be advised that this movie is rated R for a reason (its pretty sexually explicit), but its beauty will stick with you long after watching. K.H.
8) Wet Hot American Summer
Netflix turned this into an original series in 2015, offering a look at the first day at Camp Firewood, but theres something about the original film that cant be beaten. It might be because so many of its stars (Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks) werent yet famous in 2001, which gives the film about counselors on the last day of camp in 1981 a special feel. Wet Hot American Summerwas pretty much panned by critics when it was released, but more than a decade later, its become a cult classic for its tangential, absurdist bits (like when the counselors go into town and get hooked on drugs) and timeless characters (like Christopher Melonis Gene, a chef who talks to cans and fondles sweaters). A.S.
9)The Edge of Seventeen
Writer-director Kelly Fremon Craigs The Edge of Seventeen is one of the strongest filmmaker debuts of the last few years. It’s a coming-of-age story that centers on Hailee Steinfelds Nadine, an awkward teen who can’t stop making things more awkward. (Is there any other kind of teen?) Despite Nadine being the lead, the film is really about a family struggling in the aftermath of a tragedy. It doesn’t shy away from showing the uglier sides of the characters, and it never condemns or condones them. The Edge of Seventeen is ultimately about being comfortable enough with yourself to realize that you aren’t the only one with problems. E.S.
10) The Spectacular Now
Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) is the king of his high school, and hes committed to partying his way through the rest of senior year. That is until his girlfriend Cassidy (Brie Larson) dumps him for their class president. Sutter goes on a bender and wakes up in the front yard of his classmate Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley), whose name he doesnt even know. The two come from opposite worlds, but that doesnt stop them from falling hard for each other. True to its title, The Spectacular Now is a candid, heartfelt movie about abandoning your reservations and choosing to love your life in the moment, because thats all youve got. B.R.
11) To the Bone
To The Bonetells the story of 20-year-old Ellen (Lilly Collins) whose teenage struggle with eating disorders has followed her into adulthood. After she reaches a breaking point, her family sends her away to a group recovery home alongside a band of other teens pushing their bodies to the limits. These teens bond with the home’s non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves), who forces Ellen to confront her anorexia like she never has before. Its not an easy watch by any means, but its one of the most powerful teen movies on Netflix and a solid pick if youre looking for a good cry. K.H.
Alex Strangelove is an earnest, albeit sometimes cringeworthy, coming-of-age story about Alex Truelove, who nervously plans to lose his virginity to his girlfriend Claire until he meets a handsome gay guy named Elliot at a party. Set in a modern high school where more and more of his peers identify as gay, bisexual, and genderqueer, Alex grapples with the reality that he might not be straight in this sincere and realistic story based on director Craig Johnsons own coming-out experience. Tess Cagle
The story of four friends attempting to navigate their changing lives in the weeks leading up to high school graduation, Dude has essentially been billed as a stoner comedy, with Netflix dropping it intentionally on 4/20. While the movie features a lot of pot-smoking, it has a lot more going on as well. If anything, Dude is a coming-of-age dramedy, containing funny moments and a few very serious ones. In other words, a female Superbad this aint. C.O.
Fresh off his Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award, burgeoning starNoah Centineois back with his third Netflix movie in less than a year,The Perfect Date. He stole your hearts as Peter Kavinsky in last yearsTo All the Boys Ive Loved Before, and hes out to do it again. As a star vehicle for Centineo,The Perfect Dateis fine. But the movie is at its best when he takes a step back to let the other actors shine. Similar to its lead character,The Perfect Dateis a sporadically entertaining movie that gets by on goodwill more than anything else. E.S.
Harmony Korines infamous crime drama about a group of four college girls who rob a restaurant to fund a debauched spring break trip doesn’t quite fit the same mold as the rest of these teen movies on Netflix. Instead, it deconstructs all the “teen/spring break movie” genre conventions in a way that’s simultaneously ghastly and hilarious. Starring former Disney icons like Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez,Spring Breakerscant figure out if it wants to be a serious movie or a trashy exploitation thriller. So it opts to be all of them, packed full of nudity, sex, and even one oddly hot threesome with the grossest James Franco youve ever seen. John-Michael Bond
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